The Hazlitt Theatre, Maidstone, held their re-launch party tonight and unveiled the newly-refurbished auditorium, foyer, staircase and Maidstone Room Bar for all to see.
Recently acquired by Parkwood Theatres, (a business activity within Parkwood Leisure, the largest division of Parkwood Holdings which operates over 80 leisure facilities nationwide) the theatre has completed 90% of their refurbishment made possible by a £120,000 cash injection from Parkwood Theatres and the Council.
The previously worn carpets, scuffed theatre seats, old bar room furniture and pink ceilings have all gone. The theatre can now boast a fully refurbished auditorium with new carpet throughout and comfortable auditorium seating. The paintwork looks immaculate and the decor in the foyer and Maidstone Room Bar has banished the previously gloomy, old fashioned feel and is now light and spacious.
One of the best improvements is the Maidstone Room area which is now filled with new furniture, the original wooden floor has been re-instated and a tiered platform has been included at one end of the room to act as a stage for smaller, more intimate gigs such as comedy nights, poetry reading and music gigs. The room will also be available for hire and the money has been well spent to generate a return for the theatre.
Gary Roden, Managing Director of Parkwood Theatres, gave a presentation showing photographs of the worn, sad look of the theatre before the revamp and also explained the Hazlitt’s plans for the future with their three key focuses on ‘Participation in the Arts’, ‘Community’ and their ‘Professional Presentation’.
The Hazlitt already supports the arts with their Youth Theatre, Writers Group and Choir but to add to these programmes they plan to run ‘Love the Yarn’ art workshops, Yoga, Ceroc Dance, Sway Dance, Street Dance, the Hopshed Youth Group and for the over 50’s Contra Fusion Dance as well as many other dance options. They plan to help more youth groups and are even looking into holding weddings on-site as well as improving the current facilities.
The theatre has planning permission pending to change the colour of the facade and update the poster hangings and banners on the outside of the building and one of the biggest changes of all (and very welcome in my view) is bringing the box office back to the front of the Theatre instead of being tucked away in Rose Yard.
Everything looks as good as new and we have a theatre worthy of our County Town. Let’s hope the audiences appreciate the new look theatre as much as the productions they go and see there.