Inside Royal & Derngate

Inside Royal & Derngate

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Young Reporter Laura Jayne Bateman takes a look at what makes Royal & Derngate theatre in Northampaton so fantastic. 

Royal & Derngate is the leading theatre in Northampton and one of the most exciting and innovative producing houses in the Midlands. In addition to hosting major touring productions, such as the National Theatre’s One Man, Two Guvnors and the West End’s The Woman in Black, the theatre is also visited by the nation’s most popular comedians, including Jimmy Carr and Alan Davies, and renowned musicians, such as Jools Holland and Aled Jones. Royal & Derngate is also committed to providing opportunities for the local community: it runs a thriving youth theatre, and the town’s premier amateur performance society, Northampton Musical Theatre Company, is a regular visitor to the theatre.

It is as a producing house, however, for which Royal & Derngate is most well-known. Its upcoming Made in Northampton season of productions include the world premiere of an adaption of Pat Barker’s First World War novel Regeneration (co-produced with Touring Consortium Theatre Company), Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (co-produced with Northern Stage and Royal Exchange Manchester) and Ella Hickson’s Merlin, a new take on the Arthurian legends (co-produced with Nuffield). Previous Made in Northampton productions include critically-acclaimed revivals of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hedda Gabler and Dancing at Lughnasa.

Royal & Derngate, previously known as the Theatre Royal and Opera House, was built by Charles J. Phipps and opened in 1884 with a production of Twelfth Night. It suffered fire damage in 1887 but was restored by the original architect, and it became home to the Northampton Repertory Players in 1927. The Hollywood film star Errol Flynn was a member of the Players for six months in 1933, and the Errol Flynn Filmhouse, which opened in 2013 and is attached to the side of Royal & Derngate, is named in his honour. In more recent years, scenes from the Doctor Who serial ‘The Talons of Weng-Chiang’ were shot inside the Royal in 1977, only months after the theatre had been designated a Grade II listed building.

The Derngate auditorium was added to the rear of the Royal in 1983, and the two combined to become Royal & Derngate in late 2006 after an eighteen-month refurbishment. The architecturally Victorian Royal auditorium seats 530, whereas the concert-hall style Derngate auditorium seats up to 1,400. The theatre welcomes over 300,000 audience members annually from across the Midlands, and in recognition of the quality of its work, The Stage newspaper named it Regional Theatre of the Year in 2010. Royal & Derngate continually produces high-quality productions in a wide variety of genres, and is quickly establishing itself as a cheaper and more accessible alternative to London’s West End theatres.

Coming up at the Royal & Derngate
  1. One Man, Two Guvnors – Royal auditorium, Mon 22nd-Sat 27th September
  2. South Pacific – Derngate auditorium, Tues 28th October-Sat 1st November
  3. Jools Holland – Derngate auditorium, Thurs 6th November
  4. The Full Monty – Derngate auditorium, Mon 10th-Sat 15th November
  5. Merlin – Royal auditorium, Weds 26th November-Sat 4th January
  6. Moscow City Ballet – Derngate auditorium, Mon 12th-Sat 17th January

Royal & Derngate is currently staging Regeneration from 29 August until 20 September. For more information and to keep up with their latest shows visit their website or follow them on twitter @RoyalDerngate