As a fund-raising appeal to help transform the Alnwick Playhouse edges towards it target, a staunch supporter of the venue has become one of the first to sponsor a seat as part of the campaign.
For the first time, seats in the auditorium of the refurbished Playhouse can be sponsored.
And Keith Campbell, from Seahouses, has done just that.
Keith, 73, and his wife Sine, who died last year aged 81, were avid theatregoers.
Not only were they Friends of the Playhouse but also part of the venue’s Front Row scheme.
Sine adored the Playhouse, and especially enjoyed sitting in the centre of the front row – which Keith didn’t always appreciate!
The couple were present at the inaugural meeting to re-open the Playhouse around 30 years ago and were devoted followers of it.
“We met doing radio shows in London,” Keith said. “Then, we enjoyed going to our local theatre in Windsor. We went to the first of their pantos and when we could, we would sit in seats level with the stage.
“When a particular comedian came on stage, he would do his first joke and look at Sine, if she laughed he knew he was in for a good night – and she always did.
“We moved from London to Seahouses 35 years ago, and we’ve been in the same house ever since.
“We read in the Gazette at the time about hopefully re-opening the Playhouse, so we went to the inaugural meeting.
“We felt very nervous standing on the steps in the circle, with no stage or lights and we didn’t know if it would happen – but it did and we have been going ever since.
“Sine used to joke that we had beds in the green room. Some weeks we were there every night. We loved the Playhouse and I felt like it would be good to sponsor a seat for Sine.
“If you can afford it, do it.”
Keith and Sine regularly donated money they saved up for the Playhouse and Northumberland Theatre Company.
The venue’s Show Your Support Appeal is aiming to raise £800,000 which will fund a new food and drink area, new auditorium seating, a new get-in lift, studio adaptations and refurbishment throughout. The totaliser now sits at £656,550 – less than £150,000 to go.
As part of the public appeal, the theatre is running a Christmas raffle, with a selection of fantastic prizes from local businesses.
The first five prizewinners will be announced at the Big Sing in Alnwick Market Place on Tuesday, December 18. Tickets are £1, from Elemental on Fenkle Street, Lilburns and The Beehive on Narrowgate, or the Playhouse on 01665 510785.
Three ways you can help
The Playhouse has suggested three ways in which you can help to raise the money required to complete the refurbishment.
1. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, PLEASE TAKE YOUR SEATS
For the first time, the theatre is offering you the chance to name a Playhouse auditorium seat.
For a donation of £250, you can have a dedication written for you, your family, or perhaps in memory of someone special who loved going to the theatre in Alnwick.
If all 260 seats sell, the target of £65,000 will be reached.
Visit the Playhouse website at www.supportyourplayhouse.co.uk or call staff on 01665 510785 and tell them the message that you would like inscribed on the brass seat plaque which will be fitted to the back of the seat.
Your name will also feature on the Playhouse thank-you website page (if you wish).
Seat plaques will remain in place for a minimum of 10 years. Corporate dedications are also welcome.
2. TAKE A STEP UP FOR THE PLAYHOUSE
This is an unprecedented opportunity to support the Playhouse by adopting a step on the new-look spiral staircase.
Each adopted step will feature a plaque fixed to the riser with your name written onto it. With only 26 steps, this is a very limited chance for the venue’s greatest supporters to make their mark on this appeal. A donation of £1,000 will allow the Playhouse to really step up its fund-raising appeal and will be remembered by all visitors.
Due to the clean and elegant design of the staircase, these plaques can include your name, or family name only. Your name will also feature on a donor board in the Playhouse foyer.
3. MAKE A DONATION
Would you like to donate to the appeal without adopting a seat or a step?
The Playhouse would be very grateful for your support. You can give via www.supportyourplayhouse.co.uk or by calling 01665 510785.