Last week was an eventful one for the Grand Opera House as its sparkling renovated exterior was revealed after a major refurbishment and the country’s biggest panto began its annual run with a charity gala opening night.
Restoration ahead of 125th anniversary
Over the past four months, the outside of the Theatre has undergone extensive restoration, cleaning and painting.
Opened on 23 December 1895, the imposing façade, built of brick and cast stone, features an eclectic mix of ornamental elements including decorative columns and oriental style onion-domes and minarets, all of which have been expertly restored, cleaned and repainted.
The Theatre’s iconic statue of Mercury, the winged messenger of the gods, situated on the corner of the building has undergone a stunning transformation. The statue, which originally held aloft an electric lit torch, has been fully restored and once again shines bright above Great Victoria Street having been gold leafed, thanks to a private donation.
“122 years ago theatre architect Frank Matcham bestowed on Belfast one of his most imaginative and opulent creations. The Grand Opera House is one of Belfast’s most iconic buildings, the city’s foremost cultural asset, and the only remaining Victorian theatre in Northern Ireland,” says Ian Wilson, chief executive of the Grand Opera House.
Together with the Grand Opera House Trust, Ian Wilson and his team are currently putting together the final plans for a significant restoration project for 2020 that will see the unique auditorium returned to its former glory, in time to celebrate the Grand Opera House’s 125th anniversary in December 2020.
Gala opening night
One thousand invited guests from charities and community groups across Northern Ireland helped launch panto season at the Grand Opera House this evening, with the first performance of Peter Pan.
With well over 70,000 tickets already sold, Peter Pan is on course to be Northern Ireland’s most successful pantomime ever. Starring the Grande Dame of panto May McFettridge, Coronation Street’s Claire King, Britain’s Got Talent impressionist Paul Burling and double Olivier Award-winner David Bedella the show runs for six weeks until 14 January 2018.
A much-loved festive tradition, the annual pantomime curtain raiser was attended by guests from charities and community groups including Mencap, Autism NI, the Markets Community Development Association, Belfast South Community Resource and the Grand Opera House nominated charity NI Hospice.
Peter Pan, sponsored by Dale Farm, runs until Sunday 14 January, tickets are selling fast so hook your seats today at goh.co.uk.