Dramatic extension to city theatre

FROM the outside it looks like a relatively modest addition to what claims to be Scotland's oldest working theatre.

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The improvements at the Theatre Royal are already evident
The improvements at the Theatre Royal are already evident

But inside, the extension to Glasgow's Theatre Royal is a massive space, soaring up four levels.

It is still a building site but the Evening Times was invited behind the scaffolding to see how work is progressing.

And with months to go before it opens, the space already gives a dramatic glimpse of how it will look when complete.

A theatre has stood on the Hope Street site for nearly 150 years, though two previous incarn-ations burned down in the 19th century due to the hazard of gas lighting.

Scottish Opera bought the building 30 years ago and during that time it has been used by many theatre companies.

However, the theatre foyer was cramped and the layout not ideal for a modern-day venue.

But fate was to lend a hand, thanks to land becoming vacant and the Commonwealth Games.

Scottish Opera general director Alex Reedijk said: "We spotted the opportunity to buy a bit of land next to the theatre at almost the same time Glasgow won the right to host the Commonwealth Games."

The company boss insists the £12.5million extension would have gone ahead without the Games but the sporting event presented a useful early deadline.

As a result, the stunn-ing new addition to the theatre will be finished and open to the public by the time the athletes arrive in the city.

The extension will create a new theatre foyer, which will house a dramatic spiral staircase constructed of polished concrete and then clad in wood and leather.

The circular foyer is four times the size of the original foyer in the theatre next door.

A new ticket office will be created on the ground floor and there will be a bar and cafe, which will be open throughout the day.

As well as two stair-cases, there will be two large lifts to take theatre goers to the dress circle, upper circle and balcony levels.

A total of 39 window bays, which have been sponsored by individuals keen to support the development of the historic building, have been created allowing people to gather to enjoy a drink or coffee.

Two dedicated education rooms will be created at the upper circle level.

And to top off the extension, a roof top cafe/bar will be available for people to enjoy an open-air drink, while taking in stunning views across the city.

The Theatre Royal is believed to be the only building in Glasgow which will offer patrons the chance to drink al fresco, while seated more than 60ft above ground.

Mr Reedijk said: "This new extension means we can give our audience a significantly better experience."

The company boss has been actively involved in the design of the new extension from the start.

He said: "I wanted to represent what I thought was important to the audience and to do something that was amazing for Glasgow."

vivienne.nicoll@ eveningtimes.co.uk

Arts and Entertainment

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