Norwich’s Playhouse Bar celebrates 20th anniversary

The Playhouse Bar's 20th anniversary celebrations.Photo: The Photo Unit

The Playhouse Bar's 20th anniversary celebrations.Photo: The Photo Unit - Credit: The Photo Unit

There were celebrations all round as the Playhouse Bar in Norwich celebrated a landmark anniversary.

The St George's Street venue, which is linked to the Norwich Playhouse theatre, hosted a weekend of festivities to mark 20 years of being an independent bar for an independent city.

Ninety staff members past and present joined in the celebrations from all over the globe, with former staff flying in from Shanghai, Copenhagen and Berlin.

Over the years the bar has developed a reputation for being a different and creative venue, and bar manager Karen Reilly described it as containing 'special ingredients' which made the unique venue popular with people of all ages.

'When there is a jazz show on, you get a much older crowd, usually well dressed, standing at the bar next to a skater boy, I like that,' she said.


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'Everybody has a role to play, not just the staff, but the customers and delivery drivers as well.'

The staff have also played a key role in the bar's quirky decor and design, and the bar has become famous for all manner of weird and wonderful creative displays including the well known ceilingopolis - an upside down handcrafted metropolis on the bar's ceiling.

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The Playhouse Bar's celebrations at the weekend included an awards ceremony, sets from DJs and also the reformation of the band, Death, Death of Discothèque, who performed for guests for the first time in six years after one member returned from Shanghai.

Playhouse director Caroline Richardson said both the theatre and the bar had always delighted in 'the weird, wacky and wonderful' and the hope was that this would continue long into the future.

The Playhouse Bar first opened in 1998, with Rob Howe and Jacqui Mackay initially managing the bar under the tenure of the Last Wine Bar.

Over the last two decades the Playhouse Bar has weathered licensing changes and the city's changing landscapes, and has stayed a firm favourite with people across the generations in Norwich.

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