Plymouth Theatre Royal will look like a new building after revamp
PLYMOUTH'S famous theatre will look like a "completely new building" by the time a £7million redevelopment project is finished, the chief executive has promised.
Work has now started on the Theatre Royal's makeover, which will see the building re-clad to improve energy efficiency, and a new box office, shop and cafe installed along with an outdoor terrace and new studio space.
The theatre will stay open for the next month but will close fully in mid April, re-opening in September for a production of War Horse.
Chief executive Adrian Vinken said: "We have such a lot of work to do in such a short closure period, we want to achieve such a lot.
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"The only way we could do that and guarantee being open for the launch of War Horse is by doing some initial preparatory work while we are still open to the public.
"That is what's going on now, and that will help us get ahead of the programme which will mean the contractors will be able to deliver in time.
"We have got a good team and it is in everybody's interests to get this work done."
Many theatre staff have already relocated to TR2 at Coxside, where shows will be staged over the summer, and Mr Vinken says he is looking forward to the transformation.
He said: "From the outside it will look like a new building. All of the outside cladding which is very faded and weathered will be replaced, there will be an extension on the front of the building.
"Whereas at the moment people have to go down some steps to get into the front entrance and then up some steps towards the bar area, it will all be level.
"It will be a much more welcoming building."
The theatre received a £5million grant from Arts Council England, and the theatre has launched a fundraising campaign to generate the extra £2million.
"We are still at the fundraising stage and that has to continue," Mr Vinken added.
"Of the £2million we need we have raised about £1.2million, which is great but fundraising is still going to be about donations."
The work will create 30 construction jobs, a number of new permanent jobs and secure existing jobs in the theatre.
To read more about the theatre's regeneration scheme, visit www.thisisplymouth.co.uk