Theatre Royal - 2000s
Ben Barnes, the former Artistic Director of the Abbey Theatre became director of the Theatre Royal.
The Theatre Royal became a member of the Theatre Forum, the newly established membership body for the professional performing arts in Ireland.
Waterford actress Anna Manahan reprised her Tony Award winning performance in “The Beauty Queen of Leenane”.
Funding was secured from Waterford City Council and the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism to renovate the Victorian theatre and the ceremonial City Hall foyer. During the renovations the architects had the idea to bring the auditorium forward thus creating a crossover linking the 1990’s foyer, the 1870’s theatre and the 1780’s vestibule. This intervention brilliantly brings together the Georgian playhouse and entrance vestibule, the Victorian theatre and the 21st century fit for purpose celebration of a unique heritage building with a living theatrical history here in the heart of the Viking Triangle.
Having been closed for renovations for almost 2 years the Theatre Royal officially opened on 4th November 2009 with a performance of Bernard Farrell’s play “Wallace, Balfe and Mr. Bunn” which had been specially commissioned to coincide with the reopening of the newly renovated theatre. Members of the audience commented “It was a night of wonderful memories”
A further grant in 2011 saw the building of the new dressing room wing and the restoration of the 18th century wall at the rear of the stage. These new renovations helped create facilities to house some memorable moments in theatre in Waterford including “The International Festival of Light Opera” which celebrated its 50th Anniversary in November 2010.
“The Invader” an opera written by Eric Sweeney and Mark Roper was performed in 2014 which was specially written to celebrate Waterford’s 1100 anniversary. 30 years of Waterford Pantomime Society celebrated with a performance of “Jack and the Beanstalk” in December 2015.
Performers such as: Brendan O’Carroll, Mary Coughlan, Rebecca Storm, Mick Lally, Mary McEvoy, Pat Shortt, Tommy Tiernan, Jack L, Mike Denver, Hozier have all treaded the boards at the Theatre Royal. This fantastic space proves its versatility and importance by housing a number of specialised events including a recent and thought provoking talk by Professor Louise Richardson on terrorism along with some unique presentations such as a wonderful culinary display of skills by Donal Skehan.
It is these performers alongside and in conjunction with multiple touring companies and also our own talented local theatre groups ie: South East Theatre Group, Theatrebox Productions, Ignite Productions are proof that the theatre is well and truly alive and plays its most significant role of breathing some distinctively creative air into the hearts and minds of the people of Waterford.
The Theatre Royal or “The People’s Theatre” as its locally known has always been and will remain the hub of social and cultural life in Waterford City since opening its doors in 1785 and will continue to be the centre for Drama, Music, Dance, Comedy and all things unique.
Whenever we need a break from the “hum drum” of daily life the theatre offers a space where we can laugh, cry and learn. All of this comes at the hands of those who part take in such performances, most memorable of which hailing from Waterford. Their legacies stand testament to the power and importance of the theatre. The late Denny Corcoran who brought so much happinesss with his Pantomime productions and of course his Waterford anthem “My City of Music”, the late Bryan Flynn with his world premieres of “Pentimenti” and “MichaelCollins”.
The sterling work of those devoted to its restoration as one of the nest venues in the country has seen the Theatre Royal poised on the brink of becoming one of the best equipped theatres on this island. Much of the credit must go to the late Larry Fanning – hard working Chairman of the Theatre Royal Friendly Society who made it a life’s work to bring the Theatre Royal back into the Premier Division of Irish theatre.
A last word to the people of Waterford from the late Larry Fanning: “This is your theatre and yours alone. Committees and Corporations can keep a building open, but it is only people who can keep a theatre alive by their presence, support and encouragement. The future is in your hands”.