The countdown for the curtain to come down on the Alnwick Playhouse is under way, as it prepares for a major overhaul.
In just four weeks, the much-loved theatre will be making its final bow for a year to make way for the contractors who will be refurbishing the tired old building and converting part of it into a community hub.
It will be an emotional time for all the staff, volunteers and performers, particularly those based locally, as preparations are made to wind down the operation.
None more so than theatre manager Jo Potts, who told the Gazette: “I feel a lot of emotions as the final curtain call approaches and while I appreciate the closure of the Playhouse shall be a huge miss to Alnwick, some people may be surprised to learn I cannot say it is with a heavy heart!
“I have a deep feeling of pride for the Playhouse patrons, board of trustees, staff, volunteers, community groups and artists who have kept the Playhouse a vibrant part of this community despite the fabric of the building giving up on us.
“I feel relieved that we have managed to find a partner who is willing to invest in the building with us and help to secure our future. Many people do not know how close the building was to completely breaking down and forcing the doors to close permanently not temporarily.”
Jo said she felt hugely optimistic in the new partnership with Northumberland County Council to restore and improve the Playhouse to a fit-for-purpose building once again.
She added: “I feel very grateful for such loyal supporters who have been on this journey with the Playhouse since the beginning. In my seven years in position as manager there has never been a challenge which together we have not met.
“The Playhouse development fund-raising challenge of £800,000 is the next hurdle and a big one and we are going to require help from all our supporters going forward.
“However, I genuinely feel excited for the challenge and this once in a lifetime opportunity to improve the Playhouse facilities and allow us to engage with more people.
“We shall have more capacity to be a thriving artistic cultural and community venue than before, offering more cultural experiences to enhance and inspire everyday life.
“After seven years of taking the Playhouse forward, implementing new projects, attracting new audiences and investment, there is a unified team spirit with a core belief and aspiration for the Playhouse to be the best version it can possibly be this community.”
The world-class Globe Theatre will provide a fitting finale to the summer season at Alnwick Playhouse, ahead of its temporary closure.
Touring actors from Shakespeare’s Globe in London will be taking a leaf out of their ancestors’ book when they visit Alnwick for three performances on Saturday, August 11 (7.30pm) and Sunday, August 12 (1pm and 6.30pm).
They will be letting the audience choose which of the Bard’s plays they should perform from their repertoire of The Merchant of Venice, The Taming of the Shrew and Twelfth Night.
Jo said: “I am looking forward to the return of Shakespeare’s Globe on Tour under the new artistic direction of Michelle Terry.
“It is a fantastic opportunity to welcome back one of the leading theatre companies in the world to the Playhouse and I hope to see as many of our loyal supporters here as possible for the final bows.”
For more information and tickets, visit the Playhouse website, www.alnwickplayhouse.co.uk or call 01665 510785. Shakespeare’s Globe afternoon teas and Prosecco afternoon teas are also available on the Sunday, August 12, performances, served from 4pm. Book online or at the box office.