Alexandra Palace theatre reopens after £27m restoration
For the first time in 80 years theatre goers will return to Alexandra Palace this weekend following a £27m “sensitive restoration” project that’s provided “plenty of challenges along the way”.
For decades, crumbling and in a state of decay, it’s remained closed off to the public.
But, after six years, the venue has finally been restored with its state of historic decay preserved.
Louise Steward, chief executive of the Alexandra Palace Trust, said: “The heritage, the story of the theatre is one of dereliction, but it makes it unique.
“This is an amazing building, it’s one of London’s most spectacular settings for a cultural institution.
“We’re here to entertain the public and people deserve to come into this space.”
Showing off the theatre’s cracks and battle scars was a deliberate decision for the project.
It’s hoped each section of exposed brickwork and plaster tells the story of the theatre’s eclectic history.
“It hasn’t been easy because it has been a very sensitive restoration and we’ve had plenty of challenges along the way… the roof trusses were all out of alignment so we had to reinforce them to save the ceiling. That was unbudgeted for.”
Before its part lottery-funded makeover, the theatre was last being used as a props store in an area leased by the BBC.
The iconic structure’s remarkable history, as the birthplace of TV broadcasting, saw Doctor Who’s Daleks being stored in areas where audiences will now sit.
Re-discovering the theatre and bringing its original features to life again has also helped historians to learn more about how the building was made.
James White, a consultant curator on the project, said: “Even the bits we’ve removed we’ve been able to preserve and it’s really illuminated the past for us.
“For the longest time it’s been a big drafty box. It’s designed more like a music hall, this very long square box, originally the sight was terrible, the sound was terrible, but that’s all been remedied for today and it means that this is unique.
“There’s not really another theatre that has this big feel but with all the ornate work going on.”
This weekend the theatre will host to a Christmas carnival, including workshops with the BBC concert orchestra.
Audiences will finally get to see the finished Victorian theatre in the way it was supposed to be – ready to delight and entertain, injecting new life into the ‘People’s Palace’.