When DarlingtonOS first heard the news that Darlington Civic Theatre - the performance venue we call home - was likely to be out of action for up to seventeen months it was not a case of alarm bells ringing, more an opportunity to look at different options in terms of shows and venue. No idea was discarded - not even the thought of presenting Barnum, the circus musical, inside a real circus big top in South Park!
Every conceivable performance venue was taken into consideration with visits to schools and colleges in and around Darlington. Few proved to tick all the boxes required to meet our needs in terms of production values as well as the public facing element of putting on a show. Add to that the financial costs against the projected income and the shortlist became.... well, very short.
Determined to ensure that DarlingtonOS would still present shows during the exciting restoration period a new venue was found just a short distance out of town - the Princess Alexandra Auditorium.
The Princess Alexandra Auditorium is a stunning 750 seat performance venue situated on the banks of the river Tees in the grounds of Yarm School. Completed in 2012, the new theatre space looks not unlike the Sydney Opera House with a double height entrance foyer maximising the views over the river.
So, once the venue had been chosen, what shows would we offer? Again compromises had to be made. While the facilities for audiences at the new venue are top class there are limited backstage facilities - there is no scope to fly and scenery, there is little wing space and the dressing room areas are underneath the stage. All of these factors (and more) had to be taken into consideration when choosing potential shows.
While the overall costs are still high - we are looking at a total show budget at Yarm to be in the region of £65,000 - the break-even point in terms of ticket sales is slightly lower than the norm, so we were able to look at shows which may not be as well known to north east audiences, shows where we could potentially create a simple set ourselves and also produce our own costumes to help keep costs to a minimum.
So, our first venture out of the Civic Theatre will be Spamalot - the hilarious musical comedy lovingly ripped off from the classic film Monty Python and The Holy Grail. A set has been designed and is currently under construction, our talented costume team are hard at work creating a set of costumes based on the West End designs and a talented cast of performers is having an absolutely side-splitting time at rehearsals to ensure this laugh-out-loud musical comedy reaches the dizzy heights expected of our audiences.
We hope that the loyal followers of DarlingtonOS will travel the short distance to support us in Yarm. We can assure you a fabulous night out at the theatre and we look forward to welcoming you to our temporary home.
For full details about Spamalot please visit www.darlingtonos.org.uk