Green light for massive Regent revamp

A MASSIVE refurbishment project at Ipswich's biggest theatre is set to go ahead after council officers gave the plans the thumbs up.As exclusively revealed in the Evening Star on Saturday, a bid for half a million pounds to make wide-ranging improvements to the Regent Theatre has been put forward to Ipswich Borough Council.

A MASSIVE refurbishment project at Ipswich's biggest theatre is set to go ahead after council officers gave the plans the thumbs up.

As exclusively revealed in the Evening Star on Saturday, a bid for half a million pounds to make wide-ranging improvements to the Regent Theatre has been put forward to Ipswich Borough Council.

And at a meeting of the council's budget makers last night the project was given the go-ahead.

The money will mean the theatre will have a complete overhaul including all new seats in the historic auditorium, new carpets, be redecorated and improvements made to the lighting and sound.

The bid was one of several considered by the budget working group, who are responsible for deciding what the council can afford to spend.

Judy Terry, the council's portfolio holder for leisure and Hazel Clover, the manager of the Regent, put forward the bid and Ms Clover today said she was overjoyed at the news.

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“I am absolutely thrilled and over the moon,” said Ms Clover.

“It is amazing news for the theatre and will mean we are able to do so much to improve services for the customer - and that is really it in a nutshell, I'm thrilled.”

The decision must now be rubber-stamped by the council's executive committee in the new year and the work will then get underway in the summer.

“It is fantastic that the Regent has been successful in this bid considering the mounting pressure on the council for things throughout the town.

“But it is about time the Regent gets this money - we have waited a long time.”

Ms Clover said she believes the improvements to the theatre will mean not only can they continue to attract big name stars and shows, but that more people will come to the theatre.

“I think people would feel that they are getting a nicer experience when they come here,” she said on Saturday.

“We have improved the programme and have built trust with producers who have reputations and investments to protect. We've got one of the most varied programmes of anywhere in the country but there is still the opportunity to take in more shows and that's where this next phase will come in, we will attract more audiences and that in itself will allow us to make more improvements.”

Also speaking to the Star on Saturday, Mrs Terry said the money would mean the theatre would be able to continue improvements that have already been started elsewhere in the building.

Improvements already completed at the Regent include essential safety measures to the backstage area, refurbished dressing rooms, newly redecorated toilets and foyer, improvements to the canopy at the entrance to the theatre and a recently redecorated circle bar.

But it is the replacement of the 75-year-old seats that will be the most noticeable change at the venue.

The money given will match the £500,000 given to the New Wolsey theatre for its recent refurbishment work.

What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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