Following a £16 million rebuilding programme, Hull New Theatre will officially reopen on Saturday 16 September with a special performance presented by The Royal Ballet and a celebration of dance in Hull’s city centre that will be one of the highlights of the Hull UK City of Culture 2017 programme.
Under the banner Opening the New, the day culminates in an exhilarating evening of classical and contemporary dance, specially curated by The Royal Ballet’s Hull-born director Kevin O’Hare.
Marking The Royal Ballet’s first performance in Hull for 30 years, the evening will feature performances by some of the finest dancers in the world. Royal Ballet Principal dancers Francesca Hayward, Sarah Lamb, Marianela Nuñez, Thiago Soares, Steven McRae and Edward Watson will be joined by Xander Parish, who was born in North Ferriby, first learned to dance in Hull and was the first British dancer to be employed by the Mariinsky Ballet in St Petersburg. Xander’s sister Demelza Parish, a First Artist of The Royal Ballet will also feature in the performance, as well Royal Ballet Soloist Elizabeth Harrod, another dancer who trained in Hull. Hull-born Joseph Caley, who was recently announced as joining English National Ballet from Birmingham Royal Ballet where he began his career, rising through the ranks to Principal, will also perform.
The programme will include excerpts from Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliet and works by The Royal Ballet’s associated choreographers, the internationally renowned Wayne McGregor and Christopher Wheeldon.
As well as the performance inside Hull New Theatre, Hull Culture and Leisure, which runs the theatre on behalf of Hull City Council, is supporting an outdoor event in Queens Gardens organised by Hull 2017 where 5,000 people will be able to watch a live screening. This will enable a wider audience to enjoy the event and celebrate the theatre’s re-opening. There will be a festival atmosphere with bars selling drinks and snacks and a few surprises specially arranged for the screening event.
Earlier in the day there will be two free performances of Take Flight, a newly commissioned dance piece by The Royal Ballet and Hull 2017, which will take place in Trinity Square in front of the recently designated Hull Minster.
Based on Swan Lake, the new work by The Royal Ballet’s Learning and Participation team, led by Jillian Barker, will be performed by pupils from four local dance schools, the Northern Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA), the Skelton Hooper School of Dance and Theatre, the Lyn Wilson and Heather Shepherdson School of Dance and the McKeown Irish Dance Academy.
With around 100 local young dancers taking part and music written by John Webb, Take Flight will be a celebration of Hull’s role in producing some of the UK’s finest dancers. Take Flight will be a unique collaboration between The Royal Ballet, local young dancers and dance teachers. Details about performance times will be announced shortly.
More than 300 free tickets are being set aside to enable young people in Hull, who are studying dance or have a special interest in it, to attend the performance at Hull New Theatre. A further group of young people from across Hull will also be invited to enjoy the live screening in Queens Gardens for free as part of the ongoing commitment to ensure youngsters in every part of the city have the opportunity to participate in this City of Culture year.
Kevin O’Hare, Director at The Royal Ballet, said: “I am delighted to be returning to Hull to help reopen the historic New Theatre. We are bringing some of the best dancers in the world for this celebration of dance, including some who were born and trained in Hull. It is wonderful to bring this showcase of dancing talent to Hull in its City of Culture year. Being from Hull I am pleased that we are able to involve young dancers from the city’s dance schools, which have an impressive track record of producing great dancers, and that some of them will be appearing with us.”
Councillor Terry Geraghty, Chairman of Hull Culture and Leisure Board and Portfolio Holder for Culture and Leisure, Hull City Council said: “It is fitting that Hull City Council’s ambitious transformation of Hull New Theatre will be celebrated with an extraordinary one-off opening event with The Royal Ballet setting the scene for this world-class venue to be enjoyed by all for many years to come. The involvement of so many young people from Hull in Opening the New is a reminder that this significant investment in the theatre is an important part of our role as custodians of this prestigious venue for future generations. The live screening in Queens Gardens allows many more people to be part of this special event and is a testament to the theatre’s founder Peppino Santangelo’s dream of ‘playing for the people’.”
Martin Green, Director of Hull UK City of Culture 2017, said: “Hull New Theatre is a shining example of the council’s commitment to ensuring a lasting cultural legacy for the city. We are excited to support this incredible line-up of some of the finest dancers in the world, brought together by Hull’s very own Kevin O’Hare. Our special live screening of the event means many more people will be able to enjoy this special day and we are pleased to be offering youngsters from across the city the chance to be a part of it.”
Opening the New launches a diverse autumn season at Hull New Theatre, which includes the National Theatre productions of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and Hedda Gabler; the Opera North residency The Little Greats; Northern Ballet’s new The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas; and the world premiere of John Godber’s The Kings of Hull.
Hull New Theatre is reopening following a £16 million pound rebuilding programme as a result of the investment by Hull City Council, including £5 million funding from the Government via Arts Council England.
Hull City Council Leader, Councillor Stephen Brady said: “Investing in Hull’s cultural assets like Hull New Theatre has been a top priority for the council and this project is a key element of the city’s lasting legacy of 2017. Alongside the theatre, improvements already made to the Ferens Art Gallery, which has seen thousands of people through the door since it re-opened in January, and the transformation of the city centre public realm, as well as the development of the Hull Venue and the city centre cruise terminal will help to cement the city’s future as a world-class visitor destination.”
The major revamp includes new state-of-the-art technical and backstage infrastructure as well as a significantly larger 27m fly tower, alongside front-of-house enhancements, a new easily accessible entrance and foyer, lift access to various floors, increased audience capacity plus additional catering and licensed bars, spaces for business, community and social events. This investment will be a catalyst to ensuring the theatre is in the optimum position to cement its reputation as one of the best receiving theatres in the UK.
Hull New Theatre performance
Tickets for Opening the New performance at Hull New Theatre will go on sale on Friday 21 July at 10am. They will cost £40 and be available from the Hull New Theatre website only. They will also be available to buy in person by visiting the box office at Hull City Hall or by calling 01482 300 306. There will be a maximum of two tickets per person.
Queens Gardens live screening
Tickets for the live screening of Opening the New in Queens Gardens will go on sale on Saturday 22 July at 10am and will cost £6. These will be available from the Hull 2017 website only. People can purchase up to four tickets.