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Norwich Playhouse set to undergo major redevelopment

PUBLISHED: 16:25 15 November 2019 | UPDATED: 16:37 15 November 2019

Chief Executive of the Theatre Royal Stephen Crocker outside the Norwich Playhouse. Picture: Theatre Royal

Chief Executive of the Theatre Royal Stephen Crocker outside the Norwich Playhouse. Picture: Theatre Royal

The spotlight will be on Norwich Playhouse in 2020 with a major redevelopment in the pipeline to mark the venue's 25th anniversary.

Chief Executive of the Theatre Royal Stephen Crocker. Picture: Ella WilkinsonChief Executive of the Theatre Royal Stephen Crocker. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Stephen Crocker, chief executive of Norwich Theatre Royal, Stage Two and the Playhouse, revealed ambitious plans for the venue at the annual Centre Stage event on Friday afternoon as he reflected on a record-breaking year and looked ahead to the next 12 months.

At the event, which took place in the auditorium at the Theatre Royal, Mr Crocker said that the Playhouse would undergo a transformation and a capital fundraising project would be launched to coincide with the anniversary in December 2020.

The creative force behind the project will be architect Cathy Hawley, who won the 2019 Stirling Prize for her Goldsmith Street housing design in Norwich.

The redevelopment will see the front of house facilities expanded at the Playhouse to significantly improve universal access, boost green initiatives and upgrade the overall visitor experience.

READ MORE: New season announced at Norwich Playhouse

Mr Crocker said: "It will give the Playhouse the TLC it so richly deserves whilst absolutely protecting the unique and creative ethos and environment which has been critical to its success."

Another big announcement was that Norwich Theatre Royal, Norwich Playhouse and Stage Two will be brought together under a new umbrella identity, with a combined website and a new box office system to improve the customer experience.

SIX the Musical Credit: Idil SukanSIX the Musical Credit: Idil Sukan

He also revealed a record-breaking year at the box office with 433,000 tickets sold across 722 performances during 2018-2019, up from 417,000 the year before, generating £11m in ticket sales and £16m overall.

READ MORE: Norwich Theatre Royal boss: 'I could have been a quarry manager'

Partnerships were a key theme of the event, as Mr Crocker reflected on the success of their Creative Matters programme, focusing on topics such as black British history and homelessness, and he announced a new relationship with the University of East Anglia.

Mr Crocker also revealed there will be two mini-festivals next year, with Taboo: Theatre without Comfort Zones in September 2020 and a dance festival called Leap in March 2021.

The success of new musical SIX was highlighted, which made its debut at the Playhouse last summer and now runs in the West End and Broadway.

He also said there will be a special panto event called On The Ball, Cinders on January 5, building on their new partnership with Norwich City FC.

Mr Crocker added: "Partnerships are at the heart of what we do.

Ben Kensell, left, chief operating officer at Norwich City Football Club, and Stephen Crocker, chief executive at the Norwich Theatre Royal, team up together as the two businesses kick off a brand new partnership, and the Canaries sponsor this year's panto, Cinderella. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYBen Kensell, left, chief operating officer at Norwich City Football Club, and Stephen Crocker, chief executive at the Norwich Theatre Royal, team up together as the two businesses kick off a brand new partnership, and the Canaries sponsor this year's panto, Cinderella. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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"Whether it is working with major West End and Broadway producers who tour their work to our stages, creating new work with theatre-makers or building links with local community groups to attract new audiences and open up all that we have to offer to the widest range of people.

"We are committed to working with many partners to present magical experiences across all three of our stages."

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