Statue of Samuel Morley to left, local MP and benefactor; it was removed in 1927.
Over 200 years ago, the Theatre Royal was envisaged by two Nottingham lace dressers, William and John Lambert, as a 'temple of drama'...a place of 'innocent recreation and of moral and intellectual culture'.
In 1865, the new Theatre Royal was completed (there was an existing theatre in the Lace Market called The Theatre Royal) built in just six months and at a cost of £15,000. It was the work of C.J Phipps, a 29 year old architect who went on to become one of Victorian Britain's leading theatre designers.
The Classic facade and Corinthian columns still dominate Nottingham's city centre skyline.
One of the most luxurious theatres of its day, the Theatre Royal provided opulent surroundings for the boom of music hall and variety, the birth of light opera, exciting new drama, touring opera and, by the twenties and thirties, the best Hollywood-style musicals and pantomimes.
The Empire Theatre of Varieties opened alongside in 1898 on the site of the Theatre Royal's old dressing rooms. Backstage facilities were so closely interwoven that it was not unknown for an actor to leave his dressing room and end up on the wrong stage!
By the late 1960's the Theatre Royal had become run down and had a reputation for some of the worst backstage conditions in the country and so in 1969, the city council bought it and set about restoring the theatre to its former glory.
In 1978 the Theatre Royal reopened, boasting elegant and airy foyers and bars, a 1,186 seat auditorium beautifully restored in Victorian style green and gilt decor and with fully comprehensive and technically upgraded backstage facilities.
The Theatre Royal is now regarded as one of the best touring venues in the country, attracting major touring dramas, opera, ballet, West End musicals and, of course, an annual pantomime.