How Harrogate Theatre is bringing excitement back to town’s venues with glittering line-up

Two of the resilient team at Harrogate Theatre who have programmed shows across the town say there has been a “calls to arms” for the arts since Covid rules were relaxed.

By Graham Chalmers
Friday, 28th January 2022, 4:55 pm
Updated Friday, 28th January 2022, 4:58 pm
From big name comedians, to contemporary dramas, famous music acts to community productions, the loosening of the shackles has led to an explosion of events at the venues Harrogate Theatre programmes .
From big name comedians, to contemporary dramas, famous music acts to community productions, the loosening of the shackles has led to an explosion of events at the venues Harrogate Theatre programmes .

The theatre’s associate artist Marcus Romer and associate producer Porl Cooper say the burst of life since lockdown ended is leading to one of the most exciting new seasons Harrogate has seen for many years.

From big name comedians, to contemporary dramas, famous music acts to community productions, the loosening of the shackles has led to an explosion of events at the venues Harrogate Theatre programmes - Harrogate Convention Centre, the Royal Hall and the theatre itself.

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Porl Cooper said: “We’re fairly unique in effectively running three venues.

“There’s been a new call to arms and a rush of activity since restrictions were eased.

“We’ve gone form a dearth of work to being pretty full-on.

“We’ve attempted to be loyal to shows booked in 2020 and 2021 which got cancelled because of the pandemic but we’ve also been bombarded with new shows and tours as the arts has come back to life.”

The highlights of the new programme of shows include visits by the likes of astronaut Tim Peake, pop band Texas, artist Grayson Perry, comedian Jason Manford, the Northern Ballet and the Russian State Opera.

That's not to forget local productions by the likes of Harrogate Phoenix Players and Harrogate Youth Theatre.

The line-up is made even more incredible by the absence created by the sad passing of one of Harrogate Theatre’s main programmers last October, the much-loved Phil Lowe.

Marcus Romer said: “Harrogate Theatre’s chief executive David Bown asked us to step in when Phil tragically passed and we picked it up straight away to ensure we kept the relationships with artists and promoters.

"We think we have created a diverse and brilliant line-up with something for everyone."

Covid combined with last year’s launch of a £1 million set of roof repairs at Harrogate - which forced the temporary closure of the main auditorium - has, if anything, brought this Harrogate arts hub closer to the community and made it even more accessible with a series of inspired productions off-site in new locations and venues across town.

Marcus Romer points to the success of Our Gate, local writer Rachael Halliwell’s interactive play set on the streets of Harrogate last August.

And he says he is looking forward to cutting edge dramas coming to Harrogate Theatre including Far Gone, a one-man show about child soldiers in Uganda's civil war written and performed by John Rwoth-Omack

Porl Cooper is keen to focus on imaginative shows like award-winning Proteus company’s new adaptation of Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber which involves a circus!

Porl said: “As well as entertain, we want to constantly surprise and challenges audiences as to what theatre can do.”

For more information and tickets, visit www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk