Theatre work nears final act

SCAFFOLDING is beginning to come down from Suffolk's oldest theatre where a multi-million pound refurbishment project is nearing completion.Those behind the £5.

SCAFFOLDING is beginning to come down from Suffolk's oldest theatre where a multi-million pound refurbishment project is nearing completion.

Those behind the £5.1million restoration scheme hope to open the curtains on their new-look Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, in September.

The aim of the major project was to restore the theatre's original Regency features while also taking advantage of modern facilities.

Inside the theatre building, scaffolding is beginning to come down, revealing some of the work already finished - including a new ceiling painting and other decorative work.

The dress circle has been rebuilt to be true to its original Georgian form with 17 individual boxes, nine seats each, and two new boxes which will sit on the side of the stage.

Work on the neighbouring building is also on the final straight and when it opens will offer bar and restaurant facilities alongside the new exhibition area.

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Theatre director Colin Blumenau confirmed the project remains on budget and on schedule.

He said: “The restored Theatre Royal is now really beginning to take shape - even though there's still plenty of scaffolding in place and a good deal of work to be done.

“It's now possible to get a good idea of what both the theatre auditorium and the new foyer development are going to look like. Happily, we remain on schedule and to budget.

“We have less than £150,000 left to raise to complete the fundraising for the restoration.”

Funding for the project came from a variety of sources including £2m from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £650,000 from Suffolk County Council, St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Arts Council England.

The theatre has also raised almost £1.7m with help from the Friends of the Theatre Royal, a network of volunteer committees and just one full-time fundraiser.

The restoration project got under way in October 2005 and the theatre has continued to run shows from a number of locations during the two years' of work.

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