Movie stars to appear at town's theatre

By Benedict O'ConnorA STAR-STUDDED cast has been lined up for a one-off performance to raise funds for a theatre's multi-million-pound restoration project.

By Benedict O'Connor

A STAR-STUDDED cast has been lined up for a one-off performance to raise funds for a theatre's multi-million-pound restoration project.

The Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds is due to close next year when work starts on the £5.1million scheme.

But before the builders move in, a glittering array of celebrities will be performing together to raise money for the project.

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For one night only Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian McKellen, Timothy West, Prunella Scales and Stephen Fry will perform readings from favourite books, plays and poetry at the theatre's Restoration Gala.

The huge interested generated by the performance meant all 360 tickets for the show, priced at £50, sold out in just one day when the box office opened to Friends of the Theatre Royal on Monday.

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Colin Blumenau, director of the Theatre Royal, said: “It's the highest-profile event we have had to date for the appeal and the theatre, we are overwhelmed at the support of all of our celebrity patrons and obviously delighted at the response from the public.”

The restoration appeal has already passed the £4m mark, has attracted the support of actors including Sir Donald Sinden, Derek Jacobi and Zoe Wanamaker and boasts theatre director Sir Peter Hall, who was born in Bury St Edmunds, as its president.

All of the participants in the gala night have given their services for free and the money raised from the night will go to the restoration appeal fund, which it is hoped will secure the future of East Anglia's only grade I-listed theatre.

However, disappointed theatregoers who wanted to attend the gala night are still in with a chance as a small number of tickets have been held back and they will be allocated by ballot next week.

The gala night, which will take place on April 24 next year, is the culmination of a series of events, entitled a Month of Sundays and hosted by another of the theatre's supporters, media mogul Sir Jeremy Isaacs.

These comprise three evenings with three of the leading names from the opera world, Lesley Garrett, Dame Janet Baker and Sir Thomas Allen.

Restoration work is due to begin in September next year and is expected to take 18 months to complete.

Registration for ballot tickets for the gala is open to Friends of the Theatre this week and to the general public from Monday.


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