Curtains up for New Tour Season at the Georgian Theatre
Tuesday, Feb 11, 2014
Britain’s most complete Georgian playhouse is opening its doors next week for the start of a new season of tours that will introduce visitors to a bygone world of grease paint, wigs and even tales of resident ghosts.
Built by actor manager Samuel Butler in 1788, Richmond’s Georgian Theatre Royal occupies a very important place in theatre history which is celebrated in its living theatre museum and popular back stage tours. This year’s tour season starts on Monday 17 February and guided visits run every hour from 10.00am – 4.00pm, Monday to Saturday, with Sunday tours between 12pm and 3pm starting on 27 April.
Visitors to the museum will be able to see playbills and scripts as well as Britain’s oldest set of scenery, known as The Woodland Scene, painted between 1818 and 1836. They will also learn about the Theatre’s own fairy-tale history of abandonment and restoration and hear stories of past shows and the famous actors that have set foot upon its historic stage.
The Georgian Theatre Royal is the UK’s oldest working theatre in its original form and is celebrated around the world as a unique example of English Theatre architecture. The Theatre fell into disuse in 1848 - when it was let as an auction room - but following a public restoration appeal was re-opened again in 1963. A further £1.6 million restoration was carried out in 2002/3.
Sheila Russell, one of the volunteer guides, is looking forward to the new tour season, which will run until mid-November. “People are always amazed at the world that lies behind the building’s public areas. The auditorium and stage have a real wow factor but they also like to examine the trap doors, explore the dressing rooms and marvel at the Floats (lights) under the stage, especially when you tell them it used to be a wooden trough filled with water.
“There are also lots of dramatic tales to tell about the various performances and of course reported sightings of the building’s past occupants!”
The Theatre’s museum attracts large numbers of visitors each year and is a fully accredited museum (MLA) and a Quality Assured Visitor Attraction.
Entry to the museum is free but there is a suggested donation of £3.50 per adult and £1 per child. The museum is located at the side of the Theatre building on Friar’s Wynd. For further information, call 01748 825252.