As our 2020 Redevelopment Project gets underway, Project Director Jason Fretter discusses the refurbishment of our 1958 Main Stage auditorium.

With our Main Stage auditorium set to reopen in September, the clock is ticking to get our refurbishment complete in time for the start of the new season. Behind the scenes, a team from Arden Construction have been working hard to get the project finished – but what exactly has been going on inside the theatre?

To find out more, we spoke to Project Director Jason Fretter of Tandem Projects who is overseeing the work on our auditorium and foyers in summer 2019, as well as the transformation of our café bar in 2020.

“The redevelopment project is very much split into 2 different phases. Phase 1 which is currently on site is all about the sympathetic refurbishment of the main B1 auditorium and associated public spaces. It is about retaining and enhancing the historic nature of this space, whilst refurbishing many of the tired and worn finishes and fittings to completely refresh the space,” he explains.

“At the moment we are completely refurbishing the main auditorium. We are replacing all the flooring, reupholstering and repainting the seating, completely rewiring the electrical system, cleaning and redecorating all woodwork including refurbishing all of the doors around the auditorium.

“There are also some technical changes being implemented, like a rebuilding of the orchestra pit to make it more flexible and adaptable and replacing the entire stage sound and lighting system so this meets the needs of modern theatre. We will also be redecorating and replacing carpets throughout the foyer spaces leading to the auditorium.”

Over time, the adaptations to our lighting and electrical systems will help to reduce our energy consumption, improving our financial and environmental sustainability. But while steps are being taken to modernise the building, much of the work has been focused on maintaining the theatre’s original 1950s design.

As a Grade II listed site, this is an essential condition of the work – so what you can expect to see is not so much a radical redesign as long overdue improvements to what is already there.

“If we’ve done our job well, people will at first glance notice nothing, it should look on the whole, exactly like it did when it closed. Then people will notice there are no tears in the seat fabric, and the padded seats are more comfy, then they might notice the cork floor is very clean and neat and there are no wires trailed across the walls.

“They’ll notice the brass work is all very clean and shiny, and if they’re really eagle-eyed, they’ll notice all the door handles and push plates match, and there are no holes and scratches on the walls.

“Essentially, the theatre should look much as it did on opening night in the late 1950’s only better!”