|This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2011)|
|Capacity||1,200 on three levels|
|Reopened||4 October 2011|
|Years active||1984 – present|
It closed in March 2009 for redevelopment and a brand-new Marlowe Theatre reopened on 4 October 2011.
The theatre was named after the playwright Christopher Marlowe, who was born and attended school in the city. In front of the present theatre is a 19th-century statue of a Muse (Marlowe is known as the Muses' darling) surrounded by small effigies of characters from Marlowe's plays.
The Marlowe Theatre previously occupied another site on St Margaret's Street, Canterbury which was demolished in 1982.
The second building in The Friars was built in 1933 as the Friars Cinema, where on 11 May 1944 the film A Canterbury Tale received its world premiere. It reopened as the second Marlowe Theatre in July 1984.
By the turn of the 21st century,[clarification needed] the converted cinema building was reaching the end of its useful life, and the Marlowe closed for redevelopment in March 2009.
Redevelopment and the Third Building
Canterbury City Council was advised that an entirely new theatre would cost more than redeveloping The Marlowe on its existing site (there being no suitable alternative site available), and therefore decided in 2005 to give the go-ahead to a multi-million pound redevelopment of the theatre, with the working title of the New Marlowe Theatre Project. In March 2007 Keith Williams was announced as the chosen architect for the project.
The estimated cost was £25.6 million at 2008 prices. The old theatre building was demolished, and the new building containing two new auditoria. The project provided additional parking spaces for people with disabilities and a new, landscaped riverside walk connects the Marlowe directly to the banks of the River Stour.[not in citation given] Construction by main contractors ISG Jackson began in 2009 and the 3rd Marlowe Theatre building was formally opened to great celebration by HRH The Earl of Wessex on 4 October 2011.
The programme of shows includes plays, major West End musicals, ballet, contemporary dance, opera, stand-up comedy, orchestral concerts, music gigs and children's shows. Regular visiting companies include Glyndebourne Opera, National Theatre On Tour, Matthew Bourne, Propeller, Northern Ballet, Rambert Dance Company and Theatre Royal Bath.
In 2014 Artistic Director Mark Everett announced that the Marlowe Theatre would begin operating as a producing house with original productions thanks to a £23,000 grant from Arts Council England. Their focus will be on new writing.
The Marlowe Theatre's pantomime is produced with Evolution Pantomimes, who produce number of pantomimes across the country. Past stars in The Marlowe Theatre pantomimes have included Natalie Imbruglia, Martine McCutcheon, Danniella Westbrook, Shelia Ferguson, Shaun Williamson, Daniel MacPherson, Robert Powell, Lewis Collins, Emma Barton, Adrian Edmonson, John Thompson, John Partridge, Toyah Willcox, Samantha Womack and Gareth Gates.
The Marlowe Youth Theatre
The Marlowe Theatre runs a programme of weekly theatre workshops for young people. The Marlowe Youth Theatre now has a permanent home in The Marlowe Lab, in Pound Lane, Canterbury. In 2013, a major collaboration took place with the National Theatre on the Connections project.
- Kent, UK: BBC, 2007.
- Kent, UK: BBC, 22 September 2005.
- Hemley, Matthew. "Marlowe Theatre to become a Producing House for First Time. The Stage. 31 July 2014.