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Liverpool’s Royal Court put the finishing touches to “Act Two” of their refurbishment today.
The £3m second phase of the larger £10m refurbishment plan has created an exciting new foyer extension to the theatre, a brand new box office, improved access by way of a lift to all floors of the building and a first floor terrace.
The initial £2.8m of the work was part funded by a European Regional Development Fund grant matched with a loan from Liverpool City Council. This was supplemented by smaller donations from individual Trusts and Foundations and a £1 per ticket levy given by every audience member who bought a ticket for a Royal Court show.
We got a sneaky peak of the work being carried out back in October and theatre manager Iain Christie told us what we could expect from the refurbishment. Watch
the video below.
Liverpool firm MellWood Construction have been working on the project since January 2015 with shows continuing as normal throughout the building works.
Paul Mellor, Director of MellWood, said:
“MellWood are proud to be associated with the regeneration of this famous old building, and you only have to stand outside before the show to appreciate the visual impact. Once inside, the improvements keep coming into view; the new entrance area, reception, first floor bar & break-out area, plus of course the ‘behind the scenes’ improvements which are mostly seen only by the performers and staff.
“The Theatre has kept open throughout the works, which is a tribute to the co-operation between our site staff and the Theatre management. Everyone knows the Royal Court Theatre, and now everyone I speak to has nothing but praise for the latest improvements. Plus, of course, the same reputation for providing a first-rate night out!”
The new Foyer area was officially opened by Mayor Of Liverpool Joe Anderson, who said:
“Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre is rightly, affectionately known as ‘The People’s Theatre’. Everyone has been to the Royal Court at some time in their lives to see a theatre show, stand-up comedy or a band.
“During the last ten years the building has been transformed from a venue that was about to be lost forever into a thriving theatre producing quality, home-grown entertainment by Liverpool people, for Liverpool people.
“Now the building has a smart new foyer providing a warm welcome to visitors and tourists as well as to local people. This is a good news story for the city, for the visitor economy and for local people who love a good night out.”
‘Brick Up the Mersey Tunnels’ is now running at the Royal Court until early March, we caught up with the cast and met with Iain Christie who told us about what could be next for one of Liverpool’s favourite venues.
The renovation scheme has been designed by Paul Monaghan of Stirling Award winning architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris and will take place in three phases (or “Acts”). Funding is ongoing for the next phase but the theatre is hopeful that Act 3 will begin in 2017. He said:
“It’s been an honour to be involved with the re-imagination of the Royal Court Theatre for the last seven years. It’s an important cultural building in Liverpool and I believe now it has world class facilities to match the great productions that are its hallmark.
“We’ve tried to bring out the best of the old building but also added dramatic new interventions like the new entrance pavilion. Inside we’ve pulled all the finishes off the wall to expose the original brickwork and this provides a contemporary raw feel to the bars and foyers.
“The fact that the building is in my home city makes it a very special day for me personally.”
The Royal Court Theatre originally attracted funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2011 and invested over £1.2 million in Act One, the first phase of improvements. This work focussed on the auditorium which is now the only purpose designed, art deco, cabaret-style theatre in the country. The unique presentation of theatre in a more relaxed setting with pre-show dining attracts tourists and visitors as well as local people, many of whom are not regular theatre-goers.
Gillian Miller, Chief Executive of Liverpool’s Royal Court, is delighted to see people using the new space:
“This refurbishment has been great for us and for our audience. Both Mellwood and AHMM have worked very hard to create something that will benefit us in the short term but the whole city in the long term. The new frontage provides a positive impression for both local people and visitors to the city and the new facilities inside will make every trip to the Royal Court a memorable one.”
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