Hidden gem theatre to host first professional touring show
Date: 09/08/2012. Story submitted by: Gael Stigant
Sheffield is rich in theatrical culture - and around the corner from Tudor Square’s iconic theatres lies another historical hidden gem with plenty to offer.
The Montgomery Theatre on Surrey Street seats 420 people and boasts four dressing rooms, yet it remains underused.
And that is something that Julie Fancher, the theatre’s creative and performing arts officer, is working hard to change.
Along with from the rest of the five-strong team at the Sheffield Christian Educational Council, which runs the theatre, Julie is working towards a redevelopment of Montgomery Hall, where the theatre is located.
Painters are freshening up the maze of cavernous rooms, architects are drawing up plans for a major building project next year, and the team has booked its first ever professional touring show.
Julie joined the team in 2011. The charity, which was originally set up by the Sunday School Union to address illiteracy in children and child labour, these days focuses mainly on the faith and education sectors.
Julie, who has a background in theatre and charity work, said: “The charity is 200 years old.
"Over the years the charity has evolved and in 2010 they realised that the majority of work could be done in one small office.
“They thought we could either relocate to new premises or use this opportunity to restructure this organisation, expand our vision and capitalise on the space available. And that’s what we’ve decided to do.”
Going forward, Julie and the team want to encourage more people to use the facilities on offer, including the theatre.
She said: “We’re in the right location, being in the theatre quarter, and we’re unique in that there’s nothing else of our size.
"The Library Theatre seats 200 and the Lyceum almost 1,000 so we’re right in the middle. We can really fill a niche in the market.”
Although Montgomery Hall is 125 years old, the theatre itself is only 40.
In 1971, the original theatre space burned down in a fire thought to have been caused by a discarded cigarette. It was rebuilt the following year.
Today the theatre is used by amateur dramatics groups, schools and dance troupes, and last year there were about 70 performances.
Although the organisation behind the theatre is Christian, everybody is encouraged to make use of the building.
This phase of work at Montgomery Hall is due to be completed by the end of this month and the relaunch is kicking off with a performance of The Secret Garden by the Proteus theatre company on October 25.
Julie said: “We’re really excited to be bringing our first ever professional touring show to Sheffield, and The Secret Garden is perfect because it will attract the family audience we’re aiming for. We’re really looking forward to it.”
For more information about the show, which is a part of the Off The Shelf festival, click on the link below.
Address: Surrey Street Sheffield S1 2LG
Tags: Montgomery Theatre, Montgomery Hall, Surrey Street, Sheffield theatres, ChristianTo comment, please sign-in or register.
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