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Alexandra Palace Victorian theatre to open to audiences after 80 years

PUBLISHED: 15:12 25 July 2016 | UPDATED: 09:42 26 July 2016

Restoration work begins in the theatre at Alexandra Palace. Photo: Polly Hancock

Restoration work begins in the theatre at Alexandra Palace. Photo: Polly Hancock

Archant

The Park and Palace Trust launch a one million pound fundraising campaign to support the theatre’s restoration.

From the stage at Alexandra Palace. Photo: Polly HancockFrom the stage at Alexandra Palace. Photo: Polly Hancock

Work has already started to clear asbestos and make the space safe.

The theatre first opened in 1875 to bring “wonder and spectacle” – showcasing populist opera, musicals, plays and even early cinema screenings.

The theatre will be re-opened as a 1,300 seat venue.

And there will be opportunities for experimental immersive theatre – as well as intimate gigs, larger musical performances, comedy, and a cinema space.

The ornate decor and structure of the Victorian theatre will be largely kept the same – with the slanted floor converted to a flat audience space.

Architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios will preserve a “derelict” atmosphere – rather than trying to recreate the gaudy colours of the old theatre.

Chief Executive Louise Stewart said: “The theatre has been derelict for so long, it’s such an important part of its story.

“We’re trying to get that emotional reaction a lot of people have when they come into the space and to try to keep that safe - because that’s its story, that’s its uniqueness.”

The mechanised timber stage is the last surviving of its kind in its original state.

A more modern stage will be created in front of the old one, but visitors will still be able to visit the former stage and view the stage machinery and decor.

The theatre was closed between 1914 and 1918, and used as an internment camp for German prisoners.

The restoration of the Victorian Theatre is part of a larger east wing restoration project.

Under the plans, the eastern end of the Palace, including the BBC Studios and the Victorian theatre will be repaired and refurbished, and the East Court will become a grand hall, a space for the public and exhibitions.

Heritage Lottery Fund is contributing £18.8m towards the project and Haringey Council is contributing £6.8m.

Alexandra Park and Palace Charitable Trust will raise the remaining £1m.

The theatre is expected to open in Spring 2018.

- Donate towards the project at support.alexandrapalace.com.

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