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Marina Theatre

Location: Lowestoft,

With a mixture of live entertainment and great cinema, the Marina Theatre, in Lowestoft, is at the cultural heart of the community but it has had a chequered existence.

The original theatre started life in the 1870’s as a roller skating rink into which owners erected a make-shift stage and renamed it The Rink Theatre.

The “Rink” was converted into the Marina in 1897 and,  on April 26, the Haymarket Drama Society were the first  to perform on the stage with Peter the Penman by Sir Charles Young. The basis of the present theatre building was then erected, largely on the foundations of the old and was designed by Ernest Runtz and Co.

During its heyday, seven different pantomimes were presented during the Christmas period along with summer shows such as the musical comedies of McDonald and Young. The theatre also enjoyed visits from legends such as Gracie Fields and Ralph Richardson. The Marina operated as a live venue until 1929 when the onset of cinema made the future uncertain. However it survived after Associated British Cinemas took it over in 1931 until it was operated by EMI.

Briefly used during the second world war as a temporary mortuary and a reception centre for evacuated children, the Marina began to struggle in the late 1960’s with the introduction of colour television and this resulted in cinema attendances dropping, The Marina soldiered on as a cinema before finally closing on Christmas Eve, 1984. After being bought by Waveney District Council in 1985,  24 hours before a demolition deadline, set by EMI, the  Marina underwent a huge renovation which included the reconstruction of the dressing room area, and the construction of a new toilet block to serve the circle and  bar areas.

On October 1, 1988, almost four years after its closure, the Marina re-opened as the new Civic Theatre and Cultural Centre in Lowestoft with a concert given by 1970’s rock and roll star Rick Wakeman.

In the past three years the Marina has become one of the leading Civic Venues in the country. Following the first visit of the Moscow City Ballet and Orchestra, the venue has hosted world-class opera and acts as diverse as Chinese Acrobats to Ken Dodd.  In 2005 Tony Christie made history at the Marina as he became the last artiste to top the original record charts and the first to top the new combined sales and download chart whilst performing on the Marina stage.

Also in 2005, the Marina became a residence of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, one of only two venues outside London to be granted such a prestigious honour.

Marina Theatre
The Marina
Lowestoft,
NR32 1HH

Box Office Number:
01502 533 200

Visit Website
www.marinatheatre.co.uk

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