The Iconic: Isaac Theatre Royal

With roots in the city’s very fabric, the Isaac Theatre Royal has been knocking around in one of three forms since 1863. The first iteration, located across the road from the current site, started out as the Canterbury Music Hall, before swishing things up with the names Royal Princess Theatre and then Theatre Royal following a refurbishment. Fast forward 13 years and local architect A.W Simpson designed new digs on the same site, which opened in 1876. Work on the beloved venue we now know started at the end of 1906 and was completed 15 months later, and included the now-famous Italianate painting of scenes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream by G.C Post. In 1928 huge internal renovations stripped out the interior, removed support pillars and added cantilevered seating for optimal viewing, with a slick new marble staircase also installed. It was all smooth sailing until the earthquakes rocked the old girl – with talk of demolition circling like a vulture, the theatre trust powered on with the city behind them and fundraising assistance from legendary thesp Sir Ian McKellen and Diana, Lady Isaac (whose name honours the venue). The theatre was restored to its full Edwardian glory, with a triumphant re-opening in November 2014.
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