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A Georgian gem - Theatre Royal reopens

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Image: © National Trust / Dennis Gilbert

"The Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds is one of only three British theatres still standing from before the Victorian age. As it emerges from two years of darkness after a £5.1 million restoration, the facelift is astonishing. A Georgian jewel has been brought back into the light."

The theatre was designed in the early 19th century by National Gallery architect William Wilkins. After serving as a rundown playhouse and cinema and a warehouse for barrels, it is re-opening following a happy programme of restoration and development by the National Trust. Under the direction of Colin Blumenau, Theatre Royal will present gorgeous plays from Regency theatre, beginning with Black-Eyed Susan, a naval melodrama from 1829 by Douglas Jerrold, one of the founding editors of Punch. Later in the autumn will see a co-production of Purcell's rarely performed King Arthur, with words by Dryden.

King Arthur is a favorite of mine. I suppose it's just my imagination, but along with beautiful, consoling music, there are jovial songs that sound surprisingly like Gilbert and Sullivan. It's quite an entrancing mix.

Bury St. Edmunds is an interesting place. It was there, in the now ruined abbey, that the knight-barons gathered to swear they would demand their liberties from King John. The only recently built cathedral in the UK stands in the town today. The just completed gothic millennium tower was constructed using medieval techniques.

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There is more about Georgian architecture and its links with music and galaxies here.

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