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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 July 2006, 12:35 GMT 13:35 UK
Theatre closes for £5m facelift
Impression of the refurbished Theatre Royal
The refurbishment will transform the frontage of the Theatre Royal
A Newcastle theatre is hosting its last performance for three and a half months on Saturday night.

The curtain is going down at the Theatre Royal to allow a £5m refurbishment to take place.

Plans for the Grade I listed building, which was opened in February 1837, include a new Education Centre, booking hall and foyer.

It will re-open in October when the improvements will be tested with a new production of the musical "Grease".

This will be followed by a visit from the Royal Shakespeare company and Hollywood star Patrick Stewart.

'Essential project'

Philip Bernays, the theatre's chief executive said: "This project is an enormous undertaking and it will transform the Theatre's façade on Market Street.

"It is unfortunate that we must close our doors for the summer but it is essential to get the project under way.

"The major work inside the theatre involves extending the backstage area and installing a new scenery flying system."

Funding has come from a number of private sources, charitable trusts and Newcastle City Council. The Northern Rock Foundation has also donated £800,000.

A seat naming rights campaign has resulted in 210 seats being named so far, raising £52,000.


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