Curtain up at former airbase theatre

THE curtain has risen on a new venue for a flourishing theatre on a former American air base.The Angel Theatre has moved into the former community centre near St Felix Church, Rendlesham, near Woodbridge, and some shows have already attracted capacity audiences.

THE curtain has risen on a new venue for a flourishing theatre on a former American air base.

The Angel Theatre has moved into the former community centre near St Felix Church, Rendlesham, near Woodbridge, and some shows have already attracted capacity audiences.

The theatre was based in the old cinema and this building was recently demolished as part of a redevelopment scheme to create a village centre on what was the domestic side of the Bentwaters air base.

The new venue is in a huge building that was only opened a few days before the Americans announced in 1991 that the base would be closed two years later. But modifications are required to bring it up to date with more stringent fire safety and other standards.


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The building has spare capacity available for use for conferences, exhibitions and a dance studio and there is a larger bar and foyer compared with the previous venue.

A total of 350 retractable burgundy seats have been bought by the East of England Development Agency and the air base developers and much of the work involved prior to opening the theatre was carried out by volunteers.

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Stuart Aldridge, theatre manager, said: ''We are very pleased with the new theatre and it has lots of advantages. The previous building had been a cinema and therefore it did not have much front of house, but here we have a bigger bar and can have four people serving at once, and a bigger foyer.

''We have had sell-out audiences and people have been very pleased with the theatre. We used to have a dance studio in another building that was demolished before the old theatre and now we can have a dance studio in this building, but we do need a dance teacher to run it.''

The Angel Theatre will be a prominent feature of the new village. The latest master plan for the area shows a new community centre, shops, a café, library, combined foot and cycle paths, and trees. There will be a perimeter road and a road through the centre.

Tim Lynch Associates planning consultants said the aim was to create a village centre with a sense of space and informal play areas, and the planting of mature trees would help to create vistas.

richard.smith@eadt.co.uk

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