This week, we find out more about Aylesbury Waterside Theatre.
We spoke to Communications Manager, Ali Trimming, who tells us all about their state of the art venue, the importance of hovercrafts, and why this year's pantomime - Peter Pan - is not to be missed.
- Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Exchange Street, Aylesbury, HP20 1UG
- Established: 2010
- Capacity: 1,200 (seated) / 1,800 standing
Tell us a little about yourself and the venue...
My name is Ali Trimming, I am the Communications Manager at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre and have worked at the venue since it opened 8 years ago.
The venue can hold 1,200 seated and 1,800 when in its flat floor capacity. The theatre also has a smaller Second Space that accommodates 200, and a meeting room that is frequently hired for conferences and events.
When was the venue first established?
AWT opened in October 2010 – it was a prestigious occasion with names including Cilla Black and Simon Callow opening the venue. Our very fist performance was Northern Ballet's Swan Lake.
Peter Pan at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. Photo: Barry Rivett - firstname.lastname@example.org
How many events a week do you host on an average week (including matinees and workshops)?
On average 8 performances happen a week in the main auditorium with additional shows and events taking place in the Second Space ranging from Comedy Clubs to live screenings, local small-scale productions and even weddings!
Has there been any recent stand out shows/productions that you can recommend people to keep an eye on?
Mamma Mia, Jersey Boys and the 2018 pantomime, Peter Pan have been big hits. The Play That Goes Wrong also went down a storm with Mischief Theatre returning with another hilarious production: The Comedy About A Bank Robbery, taking place in March 2019. We also welcomed our first masked performance with theatre group Vamos. It raised awareness of dementia and was very well received by all who came along.
What's coming up next that is keeping you busy?
Abigail's Party starring Jodie Prenger and Vicky Binns, and the return of the hugely popular Dirty Dancing- The Classic Story on Stage. We're also already working on next year's Christmas pantomime – Beauty and the Beast! Time flies in theatreland, but it’s a blast getting to work on so many incredible productions.
If you could change one thing about the live entertainment industry, what would it be?
It's already pretty special, and has a huge diverse offering of shows. I'm a particularly big supporter of accessible theatre so I think I'd just continue to promote and encourage the growth of access-friendly productions meaning everyone can enjoy theatre. I'm proud of our venue as we already regularly host dementia-friendly screenings, relaxed performances and also offer Bring Your Own Baby comedy clubs allowing parents to enjoy entertainment with their little ones – it's never too early to be introduced to the wonderful world of theatre.
What's been your proudest moment working at the venue?
There have been many over the years, but in 2015 for the venue's 5th birthday we organised the Whittington Walk – a 52 mile walk from Aylesbury to London celebrating our pantomime, Dick Whittington. Over £6.5k was raised for local charity Florence Nightingale Hospice and it was a wonderful community endeavour with Waitrose sponsoring our snacks for the day, Motts Coaches providing transport home and a local ice cream parlour joining us on route with high protein waffles to keep us going! It took 19.5 hours, and my feet still wince thinking about it, but I certainly have no regrets!
Dirty Dancing at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. Photo: Alastair Muir - email@example.com
Are there any interesting facts/stories about the venue that people might not know, but should?!
Our venue's seating is all on hovercrafts! The seats are on different platforms that can be parked underneath the stage like a jigsaw puzzle. This allows us to accommodate standing gigs, party nights, exhibitions and even roller skating events! There are 112 'Timber Fins' on the exterior of the building – each one is entirely unique and bespoke to the theatre.
300,000m of cable for sound and lighting have been used in the construction – the equivalent of 3,000 football pitches placed end to end! The theatre has specialist enhanced electronic acoustic roof panels which create different sound modes to ensure best quality of sound for orchestras, spoken word, musicals and gigs and the fly tower is 35 meters high – the height of a 7 story building.