Theatre Box office receipts hit new high

Norfolk's premiere theatre rounded off an action-packed year yesterday by revealing its "exceptional" perform-ance at the box office. Norwich Theatre Royal, which recently reopened after a £10m modernisation, clocked up its ninth year of achieving a profit - with musicals and the pantomime breaking box office records.

Norfolk's premiere theatre rounded off an action-packed year yesterday by revealing its “exceptional” perform-ance at the box office.

Norwich Theatre Royal, which recently reopened after a £10m modernisation, clocked up its ninth year of achieving a profit - with musicals and the pantomime breaking box office records.

And the theatre's chief executive, Peter Wilson, defiantly stood by productions that made a loss, including Jerry Springer The Opera, and said he would stage the controversial show again.

The strengths of the financial year ending in March, and plans for the future, were revealed to 250 of the theatre's most loyal supporters in the new-look auditorium.


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The theatre made a surplus of just under £64,000, with the total number of tickets sold up by 13,000.

Stand-out successes included Starlight Express, which was seen by more than 35,000 people, while more than 65,000 flocked to see Cinderella.

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Mr Wilson said there had never been a better time to work in the arts in Norwich, what with redevelopment in recent years of the Sainsbury's Centre, the Castle Museum and Gallery, the success of the Puppet Theatre and Arts Centre, and the reopening of Cinema City.

“We have a fantastic theatre, the best of its kind in the eastern region,” he said. “The question is, where are we now and where are we going in the future? In the immediate future the job is to continue fundraising. We are ahead of target but there is still some way to go.”

Speaking of the theatre's greater scope following the modernisation, he added: “We need to change our approach to the programme without disrupting anything we do.

“In May next year, the Norfolk and Norwich Festival will take over the theatre for a whole week because of the new acoustics in the theatre.

“Marti Pellow is in the musical of the Witches of Eastwick in August and September, which is starting here before going on the road. It puts Norwich further up the tree.”

He added that the company run by director Peter Hall's son, Ed, was keen to use the theatre as a base for a large-scale classical drama, and the Royal Swedish Opera were in talks to bring Wagner's Ring Cycle to the theatre in 2010.

The theatre also wants to continue to “stabilise” the finances of Norwich Playhouse, which it manages, and to decide what to do with the defunct studio theatre building which used to stage youth performances before the company moved to the Garage.

Chairman Jonathan Barclay said the theatre was “unlikely” to make a surplus at the end of this financial year, due to the theatre being closed for half of it for the revamp, but was confident of a profit in 2008/09.

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