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Richmond Theatre, entrance in 2006.
|Owned by||Ambassador Theatre Group|
|Opened||18 September 1899|
|Other names||1899 Richmond Theatre and Opera House
1902 Prince of Wales
1909 Richmond Hippodrome
Theatre Royal, Richmond
Theatre on the Green
|Richmond Theatre website at Ambassador Theatre Group|
The present Richmond Theatre, in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, is a British Victorian theatre located on Little Green, adjacent to Richmond Green. It opened on 18 September 1899 with a performance of As You Like It, and is one of the finest surviving examples of the work of theatre architect Frank Matcham. John Earl, writing in 1982, described it as: "Of outstanding importance as the most completely preserved Matcham theatre in Greater London and one of his most satisfying interiors."
The theatre, originally known as the Richmond Theatre and Opera House, is structured into the familiar stalls, dress and upper circles, with four boxes at dress level. The auditorium is a mixture of gilt detailing and red plush fabrics, covering seats and front of circles.
In the early 1990s the theatre underwent a major overhaul overseen by the designer Carl Toms. This included a side extension giving more space for the audience and includes a 'Matcham Room’. The driving force behind the renovation of the theatre was Sally Greene, with strong support from Richmond upon Thames Council through its Chief Executive, Richard Harbord and committee chairman Serge Lourie
It is now operated and managed by The Ambassador Theatre Group Ltd, renowned for its productions and highly successful management and ownership of theatre venues throughout the country. Established as one of the most successful theatres in the country, presenting a wide range of quality drama, record breaking musicals, opera, dance and family entertainment each year, Richmond Theatre welcomes a quarter of a million theatregoers to over 40 outstanding productions annually, performing for about 49 weeks in each year. We also attract up to 400 young people to education events, workshops and summer school activities each year. Tours of the historic building, the auditorium and stage area are available to the general public (and offered free of charge to Friends and Members). Richmond Theatre acts as a venue for local arts organisations and charities to meet, perform and enjoy the theatre.
Its interior and exterior has been used as a movie set in many films (e.g. Evita, Topsy-Turvy, Finding Neverland - doubling as the Duke of York's Theatre, National Treasure: Book of Secrets - setting of Ford's Theatre) and TV programmes (e.g. Jonathan Creek). The theatre is now part of the Ambassador Theatre Group and has a weekly schedule of plays and musicals, usually given by professional touring companies. Pre-West End shows can sometimes be seen. There is a Christmas and New Year pantomime tradition and many of Britain's greatest music hall and pantomime performers have appeared there.
- John Earl, contributor to Curtains!!! or a New Life for Old Theatres, John Offord Publications Ltd (London 1982) ISBN 0903931427
- Guide to British Theatres 1750-1950, John Earl and Michael Sell pp. 134–5 (Theatres Trust, 2000) ISBN 0-7136-5688-3
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