Theatre Royal, Bath
The Theatre Royal in Bath, England, is over 200 years old. It is one of the more important theatres in the United Kingdom outside London, with capacity for an audience of around 900. Alongside the weekly touring productions which make up the majority of the Theatre Royal's programme, the Theatre Royal is host to several festivals each year, including the Bath Shakespeare Festival, the Bath International Puppet Festival and the Peter Hall Company Season. Many plays start at the Theatre Royal before their official opening in London. The present main entrance to the Theatre Royal, in Sawclose, was built in 1720 by Thomas Greenway, and was Beau Nash's first house: Pevsner criticizes the mouldings of window-frames and of frieze and the volutes of the brackets of the door-hood as "characteristically overdone", and mentions Wood remarking on its "profuse ornament" and on how it was typical of a mason rather than an architect. The exterior of the building, with arches, pilasters, garlands and ornaments, is visible from Beauford Square, designed by George Dance the Younger and erected by John Palmer. The theatre itself was erected in 1805, replacing the Old Orchard Street Theatre which was also called the Theatre Royal, which is now a Freemason's Hall. After a fire in 1863 the interior was redone by C J Phipps. The theatre, along with the neighbouring Garrick's Head public house, is a Grade II* listed building and is considered a prime example of Georgian architecture. The auditorium has tiers of ornate plasterwork, with sumptuous red and gilt decoration, and a majestic trompe l'oeil ceiling and glittering chandelier. It was extensively renovated in 1982, and refurbished in 1999. In 1997 a studio theatre was built at the rear of the building on Monmouth Street, called The Ustinov Studio, named after the actor Peter Ustinov. It is the home of Britain's largest annual international festival of adult puppetry, and a venue for an eclectic range of drama, dance and classical music. The Ustinov Studio re-opened in February 2008, following a period of closure for refurbishment, with their own production of Breakfast With Mugabe starring Joseph Marcell, Miles Anderson and Nicholas Bailey. In 2005 another new theatre was opened behind the Theatre Royal, the egg, which is a children's theatre, providing professional theatre productions for children and their families, alongside workshops and youth theatre productions. It also has the egg Cafe, a family friendly cafe, run by Chandos Deli. The Theatre's Vaults Restaurant provides pre-show dinners and matinée lunches, and a suite of rooms ( The 1805 Rooms) are available for functions. The theatre itself is said to be haunted by The Grey Lady, who was an actress centuries ago. She has been seen watching productions in the popularly-named Grey Lady Box, and she leaves the distinctive scent of Jasmine. She has been seen and scented in recent years.

2010 Refurbishment
In October 2009, the '2010 Refurbishment Appeal' was launched by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Royal Patron of the Theatre Royal Bath, to raise money for a programme of work to preserve the Theatre Royal's 200 year old building, while ensuring that it remained suitable for 21st century audiences. The £3million refurbishment, the most extensive programme of work since the Theatre had been saved from virtual collapse almost 30 years before, by the Theatre's then Chairman Jeremy Fry, would include an expanded foyer; improved lift and other disabled access to the Stalls and Royal Circle levels; complete refurbishment of the bars and the creation of a new bar, The Jeremy Fry Bar, in the former cellars of The Garrick's Head pub, and redecoration of the auditorium. Technical improvements would include the rebuilding of the Main House stage, and an extensive rewiring and lighting programme around the entire building, with new fire alarm systems, air-conditioning and lighting, all designed to improve the building's efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint by some 30%. The design was by architects of the Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios, and construction firm Midas were contracted to complete the building work. A successful campaign, led by writer and novelist Bel Mooney, who had been instrumental in previous fund-raising campaigns for the Theatre Royal Bath, saw almost a third of the money raised through donations and sponsorship, enabling work to begin away from public areas in March 2010. The Theatre's Main House was closed in July 2010, to allow the work on the foyer, bars and auditorium to be completed. The official re-opening took place on Wednesday 8 September 2010, just 10 and a half months after the original campaign was launched, with the building work being completed on time and on schedule. The ceremonial re-opening was performed on-stage by actors Penelope Keith and Peter Bowles, who were starring in the Theatre Royal's own production of ' The Rivals', Richard Brinsley Sheridan's classic Restoration comedy, set in and around 18th Century Bath.

Building Activity

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