30 Years At The Devonport Playhouse

It was a big gamble in 1988 when the Plymouth Theatre Company opened its first shows in the old Methodist church in Fore Street, Devonport.

The year before, the Plymouth Theatre Company had sold the rehearsal rooms in Bath Street. Converting a church to a theatre was a major undertaking – tip-up seats instead of pews for one thing and a completely new stage and changing rooms, as well as the orchestra pit.  But the 350 seat venue has proved its worth over the last thirty years.  It is now one of the major theatres for amateur-dramatic performances in Plymouth and round about twenty thousand people come to watch shows from a growing number of companies.

It was Saga Holidays who were the first to back the new theatre.  And in that first year, the company put on two shows a week for a summer season.  Mind you, it was a close-run thing – the theatre licence only arrived in the foyer just two hours before the opening performance!

Plymouth Theatre Company continued with shows in the Theatre Royal but the costs were escalating. So, it was decided to stick to the new Devonport Playhouse.  Apart that is, for a short run of “42nd Street” in 2010 at the request of the management in the Theatre Royal.

Now the Company puts on two musical shows a year with two shows from the Youth Group.  This was started in 2004, and Katy O’Brien has given acting, singing and dancing opportunities to hundreds of youngsters from the age of 4 to 18.  Many of them have graduated to the adult shows.

The Plymouth Theatre Company is celebrating thirty years with a special performance of “The Full Monty” in May, directed by Nina Jarram, and culminating in a revue, devised and directed by Angela Collins in November.

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