The Theatre Royal Bath’s Main House has reopened its doors after a two month closure for major refurbishment works. Sheridan’s The Rivals directed by Peter Hall, and starring Penelope Keith and Peter Bowles, opens the transformed venue.

A £3.65m programme of essential work has been undertaken front-of-house and back-stage to conserve and update the Main House; improving current facilities whilst safeguarding the future of Bath’s historic theatre. The foyer has been re-modelled and the foyer roof repaired. Disabled access has been improved and a new lift installed in the foyer serving the Stalls and the Royal Circle. Decoration in the Main House has been restored and updated, and a new Stalls Bar has been created. The stage floor has been re-laid and a new fire alarm system installed. A giant crane removed the old chiller unit from the roof and a new air handling unit has been installed. Other vital mechanical and electrical systems have been updated, including new boilers, improving energy efficiency and reducing the theatre’s carbon footprint.

The Theatre Royal Bath has been working towards the realisation of plans to renovate the Main House for the past two and a half years. During the past few months, the Theatre Royal has hosted numerous specialists in their field, working around the clock to restore and renovate the Main House. Extensive work has taken place throughout - from the vaults below the building to the ceilings and the roof. The venue’s 200 kilo chandelier was temporarily removed for renovation work by Brotheridge Chandeliers based in Lancashire. 13,550 crystals have been polished and cleaned individually, restoring the stunning chandelier to its full glory.

The brand new Stalls Bar has been named The Jeremy Fry Bar in memory of the theatre’s late President, Jeremy Fry, who secured the future of the Theatre Royal Bath when he bought it in 1979 and set it up as a registered charity for the benefit of the people of Bath and beyond.

It has been nearly 30 years since the last major refurbishment of the Theatre Royal’s Main House, which usually stages performances 52 weeks of the year. Originally situated in Orchard Street, the Bath theatre was the first in the country outside London to be granted a Royal Patent in 1768, an honour which was bestowed by a special Act of Parliament. One of the oldest and most beautiful working theatres in the country, the Theatre Royal Bath has achieved much in its illustrious history. It moved to its current location in 1805, and recently celebrated its bicentenary, marking 200 years since first opening its doors in Sawclose.

The Rivals, a classic Bath-based comedy features Penelope Keith as Mrs Malaprop and Peter Bowles as Sir Anthony Absolute. Famous for their lead roles in one of the most watched British sitcoms of all time To The Manor Born, the pair perform together on stage for the first time in Sheridan’s delightful period romp.