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Village Music & Drama

Curtain up at Palace

Posted on June 29 2006 at 9:40:40 0 comments


The new-look Palace Theatre combines history with modernity, writes Sally Oldaker.

The Palace Theatre in Redditch has been restored to its former glory thanks to a £4.1 million refurbishment, transforming this historic building into a stylish venue for modern audiences while retaining its historic roots.

Re-opened in April, the theatre received funding from Redditch Borough Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund – due in part to the building’s national significance as one of only a handful of surviving theatres designed by architect Bertie Crewe, and its position as one of the few historic buildings in Redditch.

Crewe, a renowned designer of theatres and cinemas, gave the Palace Theatre a classical look but with facilities considered to be the height of modernity in 1931.

The changing tastes and needs of audiences since that time are reflected in the new design, which involved demolishing and replacing the 1970s-built foyers as well as giving the auditorium an opulent makeover.

With an expanded seating capacity of 425, the auditorium now looks pretty much as it would have done in the 1930s, with every detail being carefully researched in order to recreate an atmosphere of grandeur.

From the plush reupholstered seats complete with embroidered seat numbers, to the giant stained glass chandelier and the gold leaf decoration on the walls, the overall theme harks back to the golden age of theatre – even touches like door handles and lamps are replicas of the original fixtures.

The cleverness of the theatre’s overall design is revealed in the way the auditorium links to the contemporary style of the foyer area.

The transition is achieved by playing on the differences between the two themes and encouraging audiences to feel they are stepping back in time from the modern outer part of the building to the intentionally old-fashioned auditorium.

Gradual changes in colour scheme and decor promote this feeling as theatre-goers progress through the network of corridors.

With disabled access throughout the building, the Palace Theatre now offers audiences a top-class venue.

Palace Theatre
Box office: 01527 65203

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