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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 October, 2004, 15:10 GMT 16:10 UK
New 16m theatre opens
Katherine Jenkins at the centre
Katherine Jenkins at a preview event on Friday evening, will perform on Saturday
Opera star Katherine Jenkins has headlined the debut show of a new arts centre in Newport, which had its official opening on Saturday.

A series of events was held over the weekend at the 16m Riverfront arts centre.

Facilities include two theatres, dance and recording studios.

It will also house an exhibition area for the medieval ship, which was discovered as the foundations were dug.

The remains of the vessel were found during excavations, and will eventually be displayed in the basement of the centre.

Building work began in May 2002 but the design of the venue has been controversial. In March it came second in a poll of the ugliest buildings in south Wales.

Riverfront theatre and arts centre

Plans for the construction of the centre were made after Newport's successful bid to become a city in March 2002. The bid focused on the providing culture to the citizens of Newport and the need for an arts complex was recognised.

Built on the banks of the River Usk near the city centre, it has become part of the regeneration scheme for the riverfront and town docks area.

The venue provides two theatres, recording and dance studios, workshop spaces, art gallery and a cafe and bar.

The 482 seats in the main auditorium were at full capacity during the main events being held over the its opening weekend.

On Friday night, an invited audience made up of local dignitaries attended a special event at the centre.

Juggler outside the Riverfront
Jugglers entertained the crowds at the opening

But it officially opened on Saturday with a series of free events being held throughout the day, followed by a gala concert starring Katherine Jenkins, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by Gareth Hudson.

Ms Jenkins delivered a mix of operatic and Broadway numbers at the show.

"I feel really excited and honoured to be at the opening." she said.

"The rehearsals went really well - it's a really warm and inviting theatre."

The Gwent Youth Choir also performed during the concert.

On Sunday, more free entertainment was offer during the day and a performance by comedian and Coronation Street actor Bradley Walsh took place in the evening.

Forthcoming events include performances by jazz singer Clare Teal and comedian Jeff Green, as well as a production from Clwyd Theatr Cymru.

The arts director of the venue Nicolas Young said that he was excited about the future of the theatre.

"I haven't come here to fail," he said.

"We have some fairly ambitious targets but I think we can achieve them."

Compliment

He said that the new venue would compliment the amateur productions shown at the city's Dolman Theatre to offer a "wide spectrum of arts".

Mr Young said he hoped that the variety of facilities on offer at the venue would prove attractive to visitors.

"I hope that lots of people will visit," he said.

"And we are going to have the ship here at some point too.

"Before I came here everybody was talking about it and when I told them they were all saying how interesting it was.

"And I am sure it will attract a lot of people to visit here," he added.




SEE ALSO:
Flats are ugliest in south Wales
24 Mar 04  |  South West Wales
Medieval ship's 'pirate' past
01 Feb 04  |  Wales


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