“ Addrss: Marine Avenue / Whitley Bay / Tyne and Wear / England / NE26 1LZ / Tel: 0844 934567 „
Playhouse Whitley Bay
Although fairly close to us, I had never been to this playhouse, but when the Birminham Stage Company were putting on a production of George's marvellous Medicine, this was the venue, so it was time for a visit.
BIT OF HISTORY...
The history of the Playhouse goes back to 1913, when it opened as the Kursaal. and for nearly 20 years it was a theatre and cinema before being reconstructed in 1931 and renamed The Playhouse. After World War II, films were the main attraction in trade and by 1950 it was just a cinema and renamed The Essoldo.
In 1976 the building was purchased by the local authority and again called The Playhouse, managed by an independent trust; now the main focus was on productions by the local societies and by the 1990s, the programme included professional touring companies.
In August 2007 it closed for refurbishment and having had £8.5 million spent on it, it's ready for business!
We knew vaguely where the theatre was but had the satnav on just in case! So we pass the amusement arcades and shops and notice a large concrete looking building with show posters on the sides so assume this must be it. Having parked the car, we walk to the theatre and find that there is in fact a car park right next to it (part of the refurbishments I think). Had we seen this, we wouldn't have had to struggle through the snow, so maybe a sign would be a good idea!
Similarly the main entrance isn't clearly sign posted so we tried a few doors before we eventually found the entrance and box office; I think it would have been a different story had we come up from the other side of the street, because the door seems to face down the street and is the first door you come to.
Once we did find the door, I thought it was quite an impressive glass entrance and foyer. There is a large bar downstairs and one upstairs serving drinks and refreshments and the obligatory hot dog stall. ; The auditorium is one big room with large blue comfy looking seats rising upwards. This all gives the impression of being very cosy, and when we took our seats on one of the 9 or 10 front row seats, we knew that we would have an excellent view as we were very close to the stage. There is apparently seating for 640 people and although the auditorium was full, it didn't seem this many people and there were certainly no problems during the break when we went to buy refreshments. Ice creams could also be bought at the door of the auditorium, so this probably lessened the queues at the bars.
The toilets are located downstairs and some upstairs and as well as there being plenty of them they are very clean and modern.
General enquiries: tel. 0844 493 4567...
Box office: tel. 0844 277 2771, on-line via Ticketmaster, or in person Mon-Fri 10am-4pm, Sat 9.30am-1.30pm
We had a thoroughly enjoyable time at the theatre and wouldn't hesitate to visit again I will certainly be checking the website for productions, and the few looks I have had some time show that there are a range of productions so I am sure there will be something for us to see.
I has good transport links and although we didn't get into the parking area, there is parking for lots of vehicles.
The facilities are good, it's child friendly and because of the ramps inside the theatre it is suitable for wheel chair users.
A recommended theatre and it seems the renovations have been worth it.
Thanks for reading.