A theatre

Bedford needs a proper theatre in the Frank Matcham style that everyone would recognise. A large stage and an orchestral pit. The Place is maybe a bit too intimate. The Quarry theatre at St Luke’s is ok for small productions, but not musicals. The Corn Exchange is a big room.
A stylish theatre, maybe 1 Midland Road, where M&S used to be, to seat 600 people, like the Palace Theatre, Watford, with a similar population. Thought would need to be given to ensuring the area was safe for audience members to get to and from the theatre with a visible police presence. Bedford has some good bits, it needs something to bring it all together.

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4 comments on “A theatre

  1. Peter, I totally empathise with your view. I was on both working parties to investigate the reopening of the Royal Theatre in Midland Road.
    Despite a lot of hard work, and support from NODA at the time, it gained little support.
    I tend to be a little pessimistic on this, especially with the existence of The Place and The Quarry Theatre.
    I will do all I can do to support, but am aware of the pitfalls in the road ahead.

    1. Thank you, Barry, for your reply. The Place is great in its own way, but groups have to sell out just to break even, and there is no real place for a band. Likewise, the Quarry is very nice, but putting on musicals is problematic and like the Trinity its primary purpose is for the benefit of a school.
      I have never been inside the Royal Theatre, but it is an interesting proposition. Midland Road does not have a good reputation, but it is alive and, maybe, someone could have the vision to develop it or bring it up slightly, which would benefit us all. The Athena Palace is a nice restaurant, are there others down there?
      The area has plenty of parking, which is used for the railway station. What I am interested in is for people to have the equivalent of going to London to a proper theatre without the hassle of the travel and always being aware that there will be a rush to get the last train and then will it be safe? Can it be done? I think it can.

  2. Totally agree. A theatre would be a focus in the town centre. Bedford has lost The Civic theatre, the Bowen West and The Corn Exchange is too big for a lot of productions and is in need of refurbishment. The Corn Exchange Has no easy adaptable stage and it is time consuming to set up for a production. I know that certain people have put recommendations for a theatre/arts venue forward but these have never been passed. Please do consider the possible benefits this could bring to Bedford.

    1. Thank you, J Curzon, I had forgotten about the Trinity theatre, which the Marionettes do well in, but it is not a theatre for shows. The word ‘focus’ that you use is spot-on. The town centre is dying and it needs someone or something to light a metaphorical fire and bring the thing back to life. Supermarkets have changed how we shop; ordering online has changed how we shop. Online there are lots of shows and entertainment, but there is still a desire for ‘live’ theatre and I think that Bedford has a whole number of groups who could make the thing viable when mixed in with outside performers. It just needs someone with vision to run with the idea and have the vision to see what else it would bring back to the town centre.

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