Taking a seat in the upper circle at Castlemaine’s historic Theatre Royal is acquiring a new significance.
Seat by seat – row by row – the 150-year-old theatre’s vintage 1930s upper circle seating is gradually being restored to its former glory.
Theatre managers Felicity Cripps and Tim Heath said they were amazed to discover 1930s theatre seating dismantled and in pieces behind a decommissioned part of the old theatre’s mezzanine level.
Felicity said some research and investigation suggested the vintage seating could be restored and led them to local Campbells Creek business Gallery Upholstery.
“Now Stephen of Gallery Upholstery is rebuilding the original 1930s seats, row by row,” Felicity said.
“He started work in December and we’re hoping the centre aisle will be done by the end of March.
“The first three centre aisle rows are already in and they’ve come up so beautifully.
“He’s now working on the next row.”
Felicity said the restoration had been enabled through the theatre’s Loyal Royal patron sponsorship program – and had also received some strong support from the vintage venue’s landlord who sponsored 20 of the seats.
“Currently we’ve got 61 seats sponsored,” she said.
“Basically the centre aisle is fully sponsored and we’re still inviting sponsorship for the left and right wings.”
Those who sponsor a seat can elect to get a personalised plaque placed on it with either their own name or in recognition or memory of someone else.
Felicity said the new seats were being restored faithfully to replicate the 1930s fixtures with their brass and polished wood details and ruby hued fabric.
“They don’t make them like that anymore,” she said.
“They look and feel amazing and we are thrilled with the results.”
Some slight adjustment means that when all the seating is restored it will be slightly staggered to achieve an improved line of sight to the screen for patrons.
“This is all tied in with our Loyal Royal sponsorship program, which the Castlemaine community has really embraced,” Felicity said.
“It’s meant we’ve been able to put in new cinema lighting, new stage lighting and new leather couches downstairs.”