Why Norwich Theatre Royal will not reopen fully until August

Stephen Crocker, Norwich Theatre Royal chief executive, preparing to open the theatre with all new C

Chief executive Stephen Crocker reveals why Norwich Theatre Royal won't reopen fully until the end of August. - Credit: Danielle Booden

While indoor entertainment venues can reopen from May 17, audiences will have to wait a little longer to take their seats in the Norwich Theatre Royal auditorium. 

The first show back in the venue will be the opening night of Cuban dancer Carlos Acosta's On Before UK tour on July 16 and 17.

It has been produced by Norwich Theatre, who run the Theatre Royal, Playhouse and Stage Two in the city, and is its first touring show. 

Dancer Carlos Acosta who will be performing his On Before show at Norwich Theatre Royal in July 2021.

Dancer Carlos Acosta who will be performing his On Before show at Norwich Theatre Royal in July 2021. - Credit: Johan Persson

Apart from this, the next performances is not until August 31, with dance show Nemesis, and after that it will reopen fully. 

The reason for the delay is twofold - both to pave the way for the return of its outdoor theatre and comedy season Interlude and so the building can undergo vital refurbishments.

Interlude launched last summer in a big top tent in Chapelfield Gardens and will return to a new location at Norwich Cathedral Close from July 14 to August 31. 

Norwich Theatre's Interlude is back for 2021 in a new location, pictured in 2020 in Chapelfield Gardens. 

Norwich Theatre's Interlude is back for 2021 in a new location, pictured in 2020 in Chapelfield Gardens. - Credit: Max Hilton

Highlights in the programme include musical The Wind in the Willows, written by Academy award-winner Julian Fellowes, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. 

Stephen Crocker, Norwich Theatre chief executive, said: "At Interlude last year we were bowled over with how much people loved it.

"We learnt that doing things outside people felt very safe and we wanted to be Covid-resilient in case there is a row back on restrictions.

"There is also a lot of work going on in the Theatre Royal building as the roof needed to be done and it will be finished when we reopen at the end of August so we won't have to close again for a number of years."

Hit West End shows are heading to Norwich Theatre Royal Picture: Denise Bradley

Norwich Theatre Royal is undergoing a refurbishment while it is closed. - Credit: Denise Bradley

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Other improvements include a refurbished front of house area, with a new daytime café that will open at the start of July.

These improvements have been made possible by the government's Culture Recovery Fund, with Norwich Theatre receiving a £3m grant and £2.5m loan. 

Mr Crocker said: "If we hadn't received government intervention we were looking at a real risk of permanent closure.

"The funding helps see us through to reopening and to explore new ambitions like touring work." 

Stephen Crocker, Norwich Theatre Royal chief executive, preparing to open the theatre with all new C

Chief executive Stephen Crocker outside Norwich Theatre Royal, which reopens fully from August 31. - Credit: Danielle Booden

All shows until the end of August, both indoors and outdoors, have limited tickets on sale at present in case social distancing remains.

If restrictions are lifted fully on June 21, more tickets will be made available.

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