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Behind The Scenes: The Grand Theatre

Paul Clarke goes curtain twitching

Written by . Published on September 13th 2011.

Behind The Scenes: The Grand Theatre

MANY theatre goers have little or no idea of the huge logistical requirements that even a small scale theatrical production involves.

So when Leeds Grand threw its doors open as part of the Heritage Open Days programme, I was there like a shot.

The idea of Heritage Open Days is simple - punters have a rare chance to go behind the scenes at a staggering array of theatres, stately homes and other buildings across the UK.

Clutching my venue map, I wandered into the bowels of the theatre and the backstage area. Disappointingly, we weren't allowed on the stage itself, but even standing at the back you get a sense of how magnificent the theatre is and how there must be some brown trouser moments when the luvvies step out on this stage.

Other punters were having a go on the huge lorry used to bring in the sets from touring companies, and I took the chance to have a brew in the green room.

The theatre's education department were on hand to keep the hordes of kids busy with a chance to make a stained glass window modelled on some of the spectacular glasswork around the building. Even jollier was a singalong organised by Leeds Amateur Operatic Society and I sat in for a lusty rendition of Tomorrow.

On the way out I popped into the bar where Grand regulars Opera North and Northern Ballet were running competitions to win tickets for their latest productions. 

The Varieties were plugging their reopening on Saturday with Ken Dodd, who was the final turn before it closed for a multi-million pound refurb.  

As someone who spends a lot of time reviewing acts it was really helpful to get a sense of the huge effort that goes in to me being nice or bitchy about the shows the Grand puts on. Far from exploding the air of mystery, looking out at the huge expanse of seats makes you finally understand why actors do what they do.

A worthwhile day out, especially if you're a hardened theatre goer or just want to step into a thespian's world for a few hours.

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