Regent Theatre gets Star quality

KATHERINE Jenkins, The Beatles, Tina Turner, Jools Holland - to name but a few.

James Marston

KATHERINE Jenkins, The Beatles, Tina Turner, Jools Holland - to name but a few.

For nearly 80 years Ipswich's Regent Theatre has hosted some of the biggest names in showbusiness.

And today each time you visit the theatre you can also see some of the fantastic photographs taken over almost eight decades.

At an opening ceremony to mark the official opening of the Evening Star Circle Lounge, this year's pantomime star Debra Stevenson of Coronation Street fame was on hand to cut the ribbon.

Debra, who is starring as Aladdin in this year's pantomime, took a break from the first day of rehearsals.

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She said: “I am delighted to open the new lounge. This is a fantastic venue and a great asset to the Regent.”

As the champagne corks popped, theatre manager David Mansfield said the Evening Star lounge provides customers with a fascinating reminder of some of the great names who have performed at the venue.

He said: “We are delighted to officially open the Evening Star Circle Lounge.

“It is lovely for our customers to be able to look back at some of the fantastic photographs taken by the Evening Star.

“There are literally hundreds of images not only of stars but also amateur societies and audience members taken over the years.”

Four stunning montages of pictures were edited by Evening Star head of photo's Andy Abbott include images of performers such as Morecombe and Wise, Shakin' Stevens, Spike Milligan, Cliff Richards and Regent favourite Status Quo.

Mr Abbott said: “It was painstaking work and each montage took an estimated five hours work, sizing, colour matching and blending in all the images.

“I must say every hour and every minute was worth it, even I was taken aback by the impression when you enter the room and see the size of the pictures.

“I am sure audiences and visitors to the Evening Star Circle Lounge will be fascinated and see something different every time they look at them.”

Star editor Nigel Pickover added: “Over the years the evening Star has reviewed thousands of performances at the theatre and published many thousands of superb photographs.

“The Regent is very much at the heart of Ipswich and just like the Evening Star the pride of Suffolk.”

- Aladdin opens on December 12 and runs until January 4. To book tickets call the box office on 01473 433100.

- What are your memories of the Regent? What do you think of the Evening Star Circle Lounge? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Ipswich Regent-In Profile:-

- The Ipswich Regent opened in 1929 as a cine-variety hall.

- At 7pm on Monday November 4th, the entrance doors of the new Regent, Ipswich opened and into its spacious foyer crowded nearly 2,000 Ipswich people who had come to witness this momentous occasion.

- Until the 1950's the Regent was known as The Gaumont.

- The luxurious theatre restaurant enhanced a visit to the theatre and, if desired, tea could be served in any of the fourteen boxes at the rear of the stalls.

- During the period prior to World War II the stage was not used to any great extent, although up to the mid-1930's, the 18 piece Regent Orchestra, under the direction of Louis Baxter frequently entertained the audiences.

- During the war the Regent played its part in providing much needed escapism and helped to sustain public morale. After the war, The Regent flourished and enjoyed an attendance boom.

- In the late 1950's the 'pop' music phenomenon exploded. Buddy Holly and the Crickets started off the craze and since then thousands of international artists have graced the theatre's stage including the Beatles, Tina Turner, The Bay City Rollers, Tom Jones, Chris Rea, Status Quo and many of today's top artistes.

- The theatre was re-launched in September 1991 after Ipswich Borough Council successfully negotiated the ownership of the venue.

- The venue seats about 1650 and underwent a £500,000 refurbishment in 2007.

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