Sheffield Lyceum Theatre ready to reopen after £2m restoration

Sheffields Lyceum Theatre which has been renovated
Sheffields Lyceum Theatre which has been renovated
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Curtain’s up again at the Lyceum next week after a busy summer where £2 million has been spent getting the place looking its best again.

The place has been a real hive of activity with as many as 190 builders on site on one day when the refurbishment was in full swing.

The whole of the balcony area, which has the highest seats in the theatre, has been refurbished. It was the last area waiting to be done as the stalls and circle got a makeover a couple of years ago.

The biggest single job was completely reroofing the building but the changes inside are what the audience will notice.

In the auditorium the lighting has all been converted to LED and that alone makes a big difference to the feel of the place.

It will also be a big money saver as LED is much cheaper to run. Photovoltaic panels have been installed on the roof to help cut the theatre’s energy bills even further.

Sheffield Theatres chief executive Dan Bates said: “I like the warmth of the light now.”

Lots of the beautiful and ornate original plasterwork has been repaired and renovated, including the painted ceiling in the rotunda in the foyer.

The old crush bar in that area has now been transformed into a new cloakroom with access straight out into Tudor Square.

It means an end to queues down the stairs.

The old cloakroom downstairs now forms part of extended customer toilets. There are four new cubicles in the gents, plus a baby changing area, and five new cubicles in the ladies’ toilets, making 12 in all.

Dan said: “I’m really pleased about this. It should certainly help the interval experience.”

The decision to do that work was a late one, in response to customer surveys that customers had to queue too long to use the toilets.

The pictures on these pages show some of the refurbishment work but we haven’t been able to show you the changes to the bar areas, in their smart new heritage colours, and also the new carpets as the theatres staff want that to be kept as a surprise for customers.

Dan has been busy over the summer, supervising the work, and he is very pleased with how it has all gone.

He said: “Even with 190 people working on the site, everyone’s got on very well and no-one’s been on top of each other.

“Rather than one contractor, we’ve worked with 14 different specialists and two different sets of 
builders.”

The builders’ site hut in the backstage area is a familiar sight to anyone who saw Richard Wilson in Krapp’s Last Tape at the Crucible Studio.

It’s actually the set built for the show, which was self-contained and looks like a temporary building. It revolved during the performances but of course it doesn’t do that any more.

Dan said: “This whole project has all been made possible with my staff. We haven’t had lots of consultants doing the organisational work for us, we’ve done it ourselves, so that we could put as much of the money that we raised into the project as we could.

“They’re all exhausted and not had a summer holiday. We’re all looking forward to a few days off.”

Happily, this is one area of the theatre’s life where there have been no major dramas!

Dan said: “We discovered a few minor cracks as the project went on and we had to do a lot more work to the plasterwork inside.

“We did find a few more bits of decay than we imagined which we’ve dealt with as well.

“But I think it’s gone really well. It’s not quite finished but I’m thrilled. I’ve been amazed by the craftsmanship.”

The work will now leave the theatre in a good state for at least a decade, reckons Dan.

And a lot of middle-aged women will always be grateful that he listened to their plea for more loos!

The theatre reopens next Thursday (October 9) with the new musical This Is My Family, written by Tim Firth, who created Calendar Girls.

The official reopening ceremony takes place the following Monday, 
October 13.