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Barking theatre set to reopen after explosion refurb

PUBLISHED: 12:00 01 November 2016

The Broadway Theatre in Barking will reopen on Thursday after recovering from an explosion in July

The Broadway Theatre in Barking will reopen on Thursday after recovering from an explosion in July

Archant

Theatre staff are hoping to break a leg when the main auditorium reopens on Thursday following a three month closure.

Box office manager Denise Cresswell with technicians Harrison Smith and George Petty in the Barking theatre's refurbished studio Box office manager Denise Cresswell with technicians Harrison Smith and George Petty in the Barking theatre's refurbished studio

Barking’s Broadway Theatre has been closed since an electrical fault in a Clockhouse Avenue substation caused an explosion, with the resulting fire damage putting the main stage and dance studio out of action.

Executive venue manager Mark Civil says he’s looking forward to welcoming audiences to the refurbished venue for opening show Journey’s End, a play set in the First World War’s trenches.

“We’re really proud at how swiftly everyone’s responded to the challenge,” he said. “Everybody’s been working hard to make sure we open our doors as quickly as possible and we’re really excited to put on some excellent live performances.”

The explosion on July 16 left the theatre in need of a complete re-wiring, but Mark admitted the damage was also an emotional blow.

“To see the studio reduced to a shell of its former glory was quite sad,” he said. “The smoke damage was extensive and pervasive. You could smell an intense smell of smoke as you arrived.”

Box office manager Denise Cresswell said she was excited to welcome families back.

“It’s wonderful that we’re getting back to normal and I’m looking forward to getting people back through the door,” she said. “This is a community theatre and it being closed wasn’t helpful.”

Marketing manager Barry Burke said he was impressed with theatre staff’s resilience and ability to relocate productions.

“It was an immediate upheaval,” he said. “What we didn’t want to do is leave anybody high and dry with nowhere to go. It’ll be nice to have the building busy and buzzing again.”

Studio 3 Arts artistic director Liza Vallance, who worked with the theatre on a multi-venue version of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice three weeks before the explosion, said the venue’s recovery was testament to its staff’s hard work.

Journey’s End will be performed on Thursday at 1.30pm and 7.30pm, with tickets from £8. For more details, visit thebroadwaybarking.com

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