Theatre marks 75 years

THEATRE-goers in Ipswich took a step back in time at the Regent over the weekend as part of its 75th birthday celebrations.Backstage tours, an exhibition of memorabilia and a giant birthday cake were all part of the fun and games on offer for more than 1500 visitors who passed through the doors.

THEATRE-goers in Ipswich took a step back in time at the Regent over the weekend as part of its 75th birthday celebrations.

Backstage tours, an exhibition of memorabilia and a giant birthday cake were all part of the fun and games on offer for more than 1500 visitors who passed through the doors.

The weekend kicked off with a return to the days of the Saturday Morning Picture Club.

Children, their parents and grandparents queued patiently on the theatre's steps, which had been decked out with a red carpet, before going to the original 1920's booth to get their hand on tickets for a showing of the Railway Children.


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Inside the auditorium, the audience was able to see an original 1920s Wurlitzer organ and hear music from Harold Flatman, who was the resident organist at the theatre when it first opened.

Before the film there was a chance for the audience to show off their dancing in a twisting competition and meet their compere for the morning, David Lowe.

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Mr Lowe was the theatre's manager from 1958 to 1989 and was pleased to be able to entertain the crowds once again.

He said: "It's lovely to be back here. The Saturday morning club was always so popular. We'd play all sorts of family films and get a good turnout each week."

Another highlight of the celebrations was the presentation of a giant birthday cake by the Co-op. Mayor of Ipswich Roger Fern helped cut the first slice and the rest was then sold in the theatre's café to help raise money for the BBC's Children In Need appeal.

Throughout both Saturday and Sunday visitors were able to see a special exhibition featuring a selection of memorabilia from the theatre's past.

Included in the display were a copy of the theatre's very first programme from 1929, tickets from the past 75 years, posters, costumes and the original ticket machines used in the theatre.

Backstage tours were also run throughout the weekend to give visitors a chance to see the bits of the theatre that usually remain hidden.

Wannabe stars were given a taste of the hustle and bustle of the dressing room, before being put under the spotlights on the stage.

Hazel Clover, the theatre's current manager, said: "It has gone really well. There was a steady stream of people all weekend.

"The projection room and the backstage areas have been very popular. The customers found it fascinating because they are areas not usually available to the public.

"We've been organising it all for a long time and everybody here has worked so hard to make it a success."

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

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