Gala Night details unveiled for city’s new theatre

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AN orchestral event with royal patronage will official welcome the return of the Marlowe Theatre next month after details of the glitzy gala evening launch were unveiled.

And rather than the star-studded bash which bid farewell to the old Marlowe building in March 2009, the £25million new site will be a far more classy affair.

Taking place on October 4, the event will be for invited guests and include Prince Edward, the Duke of Wessex, and his wife Sophie.

Among those invited will be the many funders and friends of the theatre who have supported the ambitious project.

It will be followed, on October 7-9, with the opening weekend giving the public their first chance to see the impressive new theatre.

Nicki Setterfield, who is organising the opening weekend, said: “We wanted to make this a celebration of the new building so there will be the opportunity for people to come and take a look at it as well as being entertained by what will be going on throughout the day.

“It is amazing comparing the old theatre with the new one. It’s as if someone waved a magic wand.”

Theatre chiefs revealed their first major shows at the theatre earlier this year - and last week confirmed ticket sales have already been impressive.

Director Mark Everett said: “We have now finalised the programme for the first six months and are already far ahead on ticket sales for many of the shows. For the musical Top Hat, which comes to us in November, we have already sold 52 per cent of the seats.”

The improved main auditorium is able to hold 1,200 people - a move which means the theatre can attract larger scale touring productions than before.

Mr Everett said: “The theatre’s three-tier auditorium will mean the audience are much closer to the stage.”

Forty-two permanent staff will manage the building with a pool of 120 helping out part-time.

Mr Everett said: “This is a substantial jump in employment for this theatre at a difficult economic time.”

The first full-week show will be Canadian circus group Cirque Eloize running from October 12-15.

■ For more information about what’s on at the Marlowe visit marlowetheatre.com.

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