Nottingham's Theatre Royal marks 150th anniversary

Theatre Royal c. 1895 Image copyright J Buist
Image caption Nottingham's Theatre Royal, seen here in about 1895, opened in 1865

The theatre that premiered The Mousetrap - the world's longest running play - has started celebrations to mark its 150th anniversary.

Work to build Nottingham's Theatre Royal, designed by acclaimed theatre architect Frank Matcham, began in March 1865 and was finished six months later.

Managing director, Robert Sanderson, described it as "one of the most beautiful" theatres in the country.

Celebration plans include a new play about Robin Hood.

Image copyright Nottingham Local Studies Library
Image caption The theatre, seen here in 1925, premiered what became the world's longest running play, The Mousetrap

Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap premiered at the Theatre Royal in Upper Parliament Street in 1952 and returned 60 years later.

Christie sat in one of the boxes and was believed to have watched the audience instead of the play.

Image copyright Nottingham Local Studies Library
Image caption The dress circle interior foyer in 1944

Mr Sanderson said he still "gets goosebumps" in the auditorium.

"It's the most remarkable auditorium because Frank Matcham, the architect, knew how to create theatres that work as performance spaces," he said.

"Actors love performing on the stage. They don't have to shout for people to hear their voices right at the top of the theatre.

"You walk in there and the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and that's before the curtain's gone up."

Image copyright Edgar Lloyd
Image caption The Theatre Royal in 1979, shortly after it was re-opened by Princess Anne, after a major refurbishment

Veteran comedian Ken Dodd made his professional debut at the Nottingham Empire, adjacent to the Theatre Royal, in 1954.

After it was demolished in 1969, an extension to the Theatre Royal was built on the site. Dodd will be returning with his Happiness Show later this year to mark the anniversary.

Image copyright Nottingham Local Studies Library
Image caption In 1995 the Theatre Royal hosted a production of Cats

Hood, a specially commissioned play about the famous Nottingham outlaw, will run in September and there will be performances of The School For Scandal, the first production at the theatre in 1865.

A plaque in honour of Mr Matcham, who also designed the Hackney Empire and the London Palladium, will be unveiled and there will be open days in the run-up to the anniversary of its opening on 25 September.

Image copyright Google
Image caption The Theatre Royal took just six months to build in 1865

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