It’s all change at the Riverside

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NORTHERN Ireland’s oldest operating regional theatre has some big changes coming up, starting this week.

Coleraine’s Riverside has revealed details of major renovations scheduled to take place during the next ten or so weeks.

A brand new box office is being constructed and will be situated exactly opposite the Theatre’s front doors.

New public toilets are being designed and will be opened upstairs, to save theatre patrons the current, long-trek downstairs to use the facilities.

Some of the administrative offices are being reformatted, in order to make best use of every inch of space available.

These changes are part of the University of Ulster’s Campus Development Plan for Coleraine and the University is generously covering the costs of the improvements.

And as well as this, the University has very generously permitted the theatre to retain its budget surplus, of just under £30,000, achieved at the end of the last financial year.

Riverside will spend the money on a series of upgrades in key areas of its operation: new technical equipment for the auditorium, new computers for the offices and a complete overhaul and upgrade of the theatre’s computerised box office system.

So Riverside will begin its autumn season with its first, major new look since the early 80s.

Riverside’s Manager, Jeremy Lewis, asks that patrons please bear with the staff while these improvements are undertaken. The theatre couldn’t shut down while the changes are being made and is trying to ensure that the daily building work will have as little impact as possible on its day to day operation. Riverside would like to extend its thanks and good wishes to all its patrons, present and past.

Among the shows at the theatre over the next few weeks are Portrush Music Society’s week-long The Hot Mikado – the society’s 2013 Musical Blockbuster.

Frank McGuinness’s hilarious comedy The Factory Girls follows that in a production brought to Coleraine from the stable of the Derry City of Culture.

PROFESSIONAL actor David McLaughlin will be playing the lead role in “Spring Awakening” - the groundbreaking play set to take to the Riverside Theatre stage next week.

Set in late 19th century Germany, the play follows a highly religious community with straight and gay as puberty overtakes them and their lives are changed forever.

This is a seminal play that attacks the sexually oppressive culture of fin de siècle Germany and offers a vivid criticism of the erotic fantasies it breeds.

A play well ahead of its time, and with its careful negotiation of teenage pregnancy, homosexuality and religion, it remains bold, challenging and thoughtful today.

Riverside is particularly pleased that actor David McLaughlin, from Bushmills, will be appearing in this production, performing the leading role of Melchior.

He was last seen in Riverside just prior to Christmas, in Icarus’s stunning production of Romeo and Juliet. Prior to that, David appeared in the theatre’s production of the brilliant Scott Marshall one-act, “The Replacement”.

David previously played leading roles in Chris McQuillan’s plays “Everything was Forever” and “Skyline” and Andrew Robinson’s Tea and Friends “I love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change”.

Riverside wishes to alert patrons that this production is best suited to audiences aged 16+ as it contains adult themes and nudity.

You can book for all Riverside’s shows, online, by logging onto: www.riversidetheatre.org.uk If you prefer to book by ‘phone, please call Louise in the Box Office on 02870 123 123. St