Colchester's Mercury Theatre shows off stylish £11m renovation
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
After more than two years in construction – slowed down by the Covid pandemic – Colchester’s Mercury Theatre has unveiled its spacious, brand new building.
The result of a £11.3million investment from the Arts Council, local government and from their own Mercury Rising Appeal, the result is a theatre and creative community space that has the same feel and distinctive look as the old Mercury but clearly has been enhanced to give it a very modern vibe.
Executive director Steve Mannix is thrilled that out of the £11.3m investment spent on the redevelopment more than £9m has been ploughed back into the local economy.
He said: “Wherever possible we have used local tradespeople and local suppliers and local materials. I could go on for days about sourcing Maldon bricks, it’s been a real passion of mine – and that’s right because that’s what the Mercury is all about, it’s part of the local community and we want local people to use our facilities.
“We want to be busy throughout the day not just at night. It’s great if people want to come and see a show – that’s clearly a big part of who we are.
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"We are providers of entertainment but also if they want to use us to have a coffee with friends, or hire a room for a meeting, or use some of hot-desk office space that’s equally great.”
The new building is bursting with new restaurant and bar facilities, a community education space, large scale rehearsal rooms, dance studio, improved backstage facilities and more seats in the auditorium. This has been a major rebuild of the 1970s theatre and it has been planned with community use in mind.
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“It has been planned to make it very user friendly, says executive producer Tracey Childs.
“The Mercury has always been part of the life of the town but we want to expand what we have to offer not only to the people of Colchester but also right across the East.
"We have a brand new chef starting so come and enjoy a meal and many local choirs and theatre groups are all ready making inquiries to use our facilities to rehearse.”
She added the building is now fully accessible. Three new lifts have been installed and the number of toilets have been doubled.
The public will gain their first look at the new building during an open weekend on June 26-27 before new artistic director Ryan McBryde puts a new-look Sherlock Holmes play Baskerville by Ken Ludwig on the main stage from July 30– August 22.
The studio theatre will be supporting new East Anglian writers. It’s first major production will be a new play Sirens by Essex writer Kenny Emson and details life on Mersea Island.
Details of the Mercury Theatre’s programme can be found online and booking opens on Tuesday June 1.