Canterbury’s new cultural hot-spot a hit after Opening Gala

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A glitzy opening gala concert raised the curtain on the new £25.6m Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury on Tuesday night.

The Earl and Countess of Wessex attended the concert, performed by the theatre’s resident Philharmonia Orchestra.

The Earl of Wessex, who is the Royal Patron of the New Marlowe Theatre Development Trust, was joined by an invited audience and members of the public who had won their tickets by public ballot, packing the 1,200-seater auditorium.

The Earl said: “It has been an absolute pleasure and delight to have served as a patron on this appeal and it has been a fantastic journey. I just want to thank everyone who supported it. You’ve now got this fantastic theatre and I hope you will use it and come back and support it time and time again.”

Leader of Canterbury City Council Cllr John Gilbey said: “This wonderful new theatre is a gift to our city and district and the theatregoers of the south east. It will provide an annual economic boost of an estimated £25 million and employment for 150 staff. And for performers it offers a world-class venue to show off their talents. The opening is the culmination of many years’ hard work and we are very proud of the end result.”

Theatre director Mark Everett added: “Our Opening Gala was a huge success and one of the smoothest run events I have ever experienced in a theatre. The acoustic is good as we had hoped and planned - and probably more.”

The project which started in spring 2009 saw the demolition of the old Marlowe Theatre – which started life as a cinema in the 1930s - and a new Marlowe constructed on an extended site. The stunning main auditorium is set over three levels with an orchestra pit that can accommodate up to 80 musicians, enabling The Marlowe to stage world-class music, theatre and dance.

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