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Revamped Lyric Theatre launches with VIP premiere of The Crucible

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Simon Callow and Adrian Dunbar assisted Lyric chairman Mark Carruthers in cutting the ribbon to open the new Lyric

Simon Callow and Adrian Dunbar assisted Lyric chairman Mark Carruthers in cutting the ribbon to open the new Lyric

Darren Kidd

Official opening of the Lyric Theatre in Belfast. Mark Carruthers, Angela McCloskey and Sir George Bain

Official opening of the Lyric Theatre in Belfast. Mark Carruthers, Angela McCloskey and Sir George Bain

Official opening of the Lyric Theatre in Belfast. Dan Gordon, Lady Angela Smith and Nigel Smith

Official opening of the Lyric Theatre in Belfast. Dan Gordon, Lady Angela Smith and Nigel Smith

Official opening of the Lyric Theatre in Belfast. Adrian Dunbar, Caroline Broadley and Richard Boardley

Official opening of the Lyric Theatre in Belfast. Adrian Dunbar, Caroline Broadley and Richard Boardley

Official opening of the Lyric Theatre in Belfast. Maire Campbell, Brian Kennedy and Dan Gordon

Official opening of the Lyric Theatre in Belfast. Maire Campbell, Brian Kennedy and Dan Gordon

Official opening of the Lyric Theatre in Belfast. Pat Doherty, Doreen Doherty and Angela McCloskey

Official opening of the Lyric Theatre in Belfast. Pat Doherty, Doreen Doherty and Angela McCloskey

Official opening of the Lyric Theatre in Belfast. Brian Kennedy,  Maria McCann and Martin Hand

Official opening of the Lyric Theatre in Belfast. Brian Kennedy, Maria McCann and Martin Hand

Simon Callow at the opening of the new Lyric theatre

Simon Callow at the opening of the new Lyric theatre

Darren Kidd

Playwright Brian Friel and Lyric chairman Mark Carruthers OBE took centre stage to address the audience at the gala opening of the new Lyric Theatre on Sunday 1st May

Playwright Brian Friel and Lyric chairman Mark Carruthers OBE took centre stage to address the audience at the gala opening of the new Lyric Theatre on Sunday 1st May

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Simon Callow and Adrian Dunbar assisted Lyric chairman Mark Carruthers in cutting the ribbon to open the new Lyric

Belfast’s new Lyric Theatre has the potential to produce a new era of high calibre theatre, according to a VIP guest who attended last night’s official gala performance at the newly unveiled venue.

Familiar faces from local theatre and those from the national stage of film and television turned out for the gala performance of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, the first official performance at the beloved Lyric following its three-year absence from Northern Ireland’s cultural scene.

World famous actor Simon Callow said it was a “marvellous occasion” as he prepared to watch the show alongside a wealth of Northern Ireland’s theatre community, including local actors Adrian Dunbar and Alan McKee and playwright Tim Loane.

Sipping champagne prior to curtain-up were Belfast singer Brian Kennedy, a number of local politicians and Oscar-winning actor Liam Neeson’s mother Kitty, though sadly not the man himself.

It was a full house that greeted the cast of The Crucible, with all 389 seats occupied.

Following another few previews this week, the play finally opens to the public on Thursday. With its cast of 19 actors, The Crucible is one of the largest shows the Lyric has ever produced and is being directed by Conall Morrison, featuring a cast of talent including Malcolm Adams, Kerry Cleland, Ruairi Conaghan, Rick Crawford, Catherine Cusack, Niall Cusack, Julia Dearden and Aoife Duffin.

Artistic director Richard Croxford said: “We chose The Crucible because it’s such a great play and we wanted an epic play for an epic building.

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“It has a cast of 19 actors and it’s rare to employ such a large cast of 19 quality actors.

“The play and its cast lets us show as much of Northern Ireland’s talent as possible,” he said.

Actor turned playwright and screenwriter Tim Loane said he believes the theatre will be a catalyst for a new era of good theatre, which he feels has been lacking.

“Belfast can now say it has the best theatre in the country,” he said. “It’s what we need and what we have deserved for a long time.”

A member of the writing team involved with the hit Channel 4 show Teachers, Mr Loane added it was “fantastic” to have such high new standards to aspire to.

Actor Alan McKee, one half of comedy duo Grimes and McKee, said he was very impressed with the new building.

“I really think it’s a credit to everyone involved and it’s a great night for the city and for Irish theatre in general,” he said.

“From an actor’s point of view, it’s nice to see so many fellow Equity members employed.”


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