The Theatre Royal is Ireland’s Oldest continually operating theatre. This Victorian gem, hidden within a beautiful Georgian building, is a jewel in the midst of the Waterford Viking Triangle. This Georgian masterpiece in the heart of Waterford's Viking Triangle has been lovingly restored to its former Victorian glory. Famous Waterford architect John Roberts created the building, which opened in 1785 and had a theatre and Assembly Rooms. As You Like It, Shakespeare's five-act comedy, was performed first on opening night. In the latter half of 1788, construction concluded on what was then called the Ball Room but is now known as The Large Room.
It wasn't until 1876, when the brand-new Theatre Royal opened its doors, that the building was given the auditorium that we still use today. It was declared at the time, “we have sufficient guarantee that nothing of an objectionable character will ever be presented within its walls”! Yes, that's still the case today. When asked at American customs if he had anything to declare, Oscar Wilde famously replied, “only my genius”. Oscar Wilde gave lectures about America at that time and may have recounted that story.
King Edward VII, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Harold Pinter, and many other local theatre companies performed there in the early 20th century when it was used as a musical theatre and a cinema.
For a short time in the 1950s, it was proposed that the theatre’s performance space be shut down and the building be used as council offices instead. The audience and local theatre groups, however, were outraged by this idea, and the theatre reopened in 1958. The Waterford Festival of Light Opera began there two years later and endured for more than half a century.
Ben Barnes, the theatre’s artistic director, oversaw major improvements in recent years. A wall from the 18th century has been restored at the back of the stage, and a new addition features state-of-the-art dressing rooms.
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The Mall, Waterford, Co. Waterford, Ireland.