Theatre Re-opening Season Announced
(20th August 2004)
Watford Palace Theatre is preparing to reopen in October after an £8.7m Arts Council England Lottery Funded refurbishment programme.
The main aspects of the work have been:
The foyer area has been opened out to create more space. There is a brand new café bar on the ground floor, just off the foyer, which will be open throughout the day serving breakfast, light lunches, afternoon tea and evening drinks. The café will be run by Leaf Catering who previously ran the very popular restaurant at Clements Department store in Watford. The Box Office has moved to the right hand side of the foyer, with ramped access available from street level to both the Box Office and café. The entire building is also non-smoking.
Improved access has been a very important part of the refurbishment programme. A lift has been installed which can take patrons to all three levels of the theatre and extra space has been allocated in the auditorium for wheelchair users. The theatre is also delighted to be able to offer STAGETEXT captioned performances for people who are deaf or have hearing difficulties. This is where the words appear on a screen at the same time as they are sung or spoken enabling those with hearing impairments to fully understand the production. The Palace Theatre will also continue to offer Audio Described performances for the visually impaired, an infra red amplification system and the option for guide or hearing dogs to remain with their owners throughout the evening.
The beautiful Edwardian auditorium has undergone subtle changes whilst retaining it’s traditional appearance. The relocation of the lighting control office to the top level has allowed more seats to be added to the rear of the stalls, and the previous bench seating in the top balcony level has been replaced by the same theatre seating as the lower two levels. Extra entrance doors on both levels also offer easier access. Brand new seats and a new colour scheme complete the refit in the auditorium.
Also, a new air cooling system has been installed which will control the temperature in the auditorium making it a much more comfortable environment.
The stage has increased in depth and height, thanks to the addition of a fly tower (the blue structure at the rear of the building visible from the ring-road). Coupled with the installation of a state-of-the-art flying system, this will allow designers and directors to create more spectacular scenery and effects in their productions. Backstage facilities for actors and staff have also been improved with new dressing rooms, workspaces and offices.
As part of the programme of work, two pieces of art were commissioned for inclusion within the theatre. New Zealand born sculptor Bill Culbert created two light installations – one for the auditorium, another for the foyer – which will provide a link between the traditional and modern elements of the theatre.