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Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds launches £50,000 emergency appeal

An emergency appeal has been launched by Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds to help it reopen and survive the coronavirus pandemic.

Bosses aim to raise £50,000 from The Show Will Go On! campaign to allow them to begin preparations to lift the curtain once again on the historic venue.

The theatre, in Westgate Street, has estimated it will lose £300,000 in net income over six months from April 1.

The Theatre Royal, in Bury St Edmunds. (36048023)
The Theatre Royal, in Bury St Edmunds. (36048023)

Adrian Grady, general manager and interim CEO, said: “We were heartbroken to close our theatre and there are many challenging times ahead but Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds has stood strong for 200 years and we will continue to do so.”

An array of film and stage stars have urged the community to donate.

The Theatre Royal recently starred in film The Personal History of David Copperfield and its director Armando Iannucci praised the ‘fabulous’ venue.

Armando Iannucci
Armando Iannucci

He said: “Like all theatres, it and its staff have been hit hard by the Covid lockdown, and if this beautiful and historic theatre is to open its doors again and become what it has always been, a working theatre in the community, then it’ll need a tremendous amount of help from every quarter. I’m urging everyone to help where they can.”

Gyles Brandreth, broadcaster and entertainer, said it was a ‘traumatising time for theatres across the land’.

“I know the Theatre Royal has many friends and now is the time to stand up in the stalls, not just for a standing ovation but to be counted,” he said. “Dig deep if you can to support this jewel in the crown of British theatre.”

Libby Purves, radio presenter and author, cited the theatre’s links to acclaimed Bury St Edmunds-born director Sir Peter Hall, who as a stage-struck teenager climbed into the building when it was used as a barrel store. Sir Peter was president of the theatre’s £5.3 million restoration appeal.

Gyles Brandreth
Gyles Brandreth

Libby said the ‘jewel-box of Georgian elegance, lovingly restored’ serves the community with ‘artistic energy, intelligence and stimulating comradeship’.

“Endangered now like all theatres, it needs us to stand by it again,” she said.

Echoing her message, actor Sir Derek Jacobi said: “Having spent many happy hours in its beautiful auditorium and on its marvellous stage, I urge you to support this appeal to re-open Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds, so that she can be saved for generations to enjoy.”

Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds. Picture by Richard Marsham
Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds. Picture by Richard Marsham

Actor Robert Glenister, who first worked at the theatre in the early 1990s, said: “It’s a jewel in Bury St Edmunds’ crown and must be preserved at all costs.”

The theatre’s main focus is looking at whether it can stage its pantomime this year.

Chris Clarkson has played the panto dame several times and was Tiger Lily in last year’s production.

Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds pantomime Peter Pan - Chris Clarkson as Tiger Lily and Anna Campkin as Tinkerbell. Picture by Tony Kelly
Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds pantomime Peter Pan - Chris Clarkson as Tiger Lily and Anna Campkin as Tinkerbell. Picture by Tony Kelly

As Tiger Lily, he said: “Theatres are having a rum old time and what I’d love for you to do is donate a few pounds. Do what you can my lovelies and you’ll make a self-isolating Tiger Lily very happy.”

Roger Quince, chairman of the theatre’s board of trustees, added: “The return to normality is likely to be a long journey - please support this campaign to ensure that our much-loved theatre will be in a position to come out of this long dark period as strong as ever.”

To donate, visit www.theatreroyal.org

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