ANYONE planning a trip to Newcastle’s Theatre Royal after it reopens next month is in for a treat – regardless of what’s showing on stage.
For a time, it seems, the building will be the star and worth the ticket price on its own.
As I discovered yesterday, the step into the future afforded by a near £5m improvement of the auditorium is also a reminder of a glorious past.
My guide Simon Campbell, of SURGO Construction, repeatedly pointed out that what has been taking place is a restoration rather then a refurbishment – an attempt to reinstate the original vision of the famous theatre architect Frank Matcham.
The view from the stage was like being whisked back to a shiny new 1901 with reds, golds and dark browns reminiscent of the richly flamboyant Edwardian era.
Gone are the old green cinema seats, spongy, wrongly angled and lacking leg room. In their place are purpose-built theatre seats with firm but comfortable upholstery and enough room between rows for long legs.
The seats are the colour of a rich red wine, the carpet – made to match samples of the original – a matching burgundy with swirling gold plumes.
Look up and you will see the elaborate plasterwork, beautifully restored and shimmering with immaculately applied gold leaf. It’s like a glorious wedding cake, light as air and with the frieze above the stage, of fruit and musicians and a relief of Shakespeare, shining like new.