Opened in 1909, re-vamped and extended in the late 1930s, bombed in 1941 and rebuilt in 1950. The Spa Pavilion has had a difficult start in life but became a much loved feature on the entertainment scene in Suffolk. Its closure in 2013 was a dark day in Felixstowe, but there is now light at the end of the tunnel. New owners NRG Theatres have put together a programme of events for the next three months, with a grand gala re-opening staring The Stars from The Commitments on Saturday 14th November.
We asked NRG’s CEO Ray Anderson what made the group buy the Spa Pavillion:
“We originally saw the Spa when it was being marketed for sale. To us it seemed like an iconic building on the sea front. It’s in a great location, and we thought it was too good to be allowed to be pulled down. Theatre has always been closely aligned to the interests of all of the founding partners of NRG. Between us we come with a mix of entertainment, production and marketing skills. One of the investors also has close family links to Felixstowe.”
But what of the plans for the theatre, beyond these first few tentative steps under new ownership?
“We have designed our first season, which kicks off in November, to test response and appeal as widely as possible. Much of our future planning will be based on audience feedback and numbers, but we have several interesting larger plans for the Spa building should we start to see a large enough audience. This will include a new restaurant on the ground floor and the creation of an in-house production company to stage our own shows. Later on it could include the construction of an additional smaller community theatre, new theatre bar, conference rooms and rehearsal area in the cliff behind the existing building, subject obviously to planning permission and community support.”
Over the last 24 years Grapevine has seen the closure of many entertainment venues across the region. Audiences use the excuse that promoters don’t put on shows they want to see. Promoters equally bemoan the fact that audiences don’t tell them what they’d like to see – and so the chickens and eggs roll on.
The simple fact is that if the Spa Pavilion is to be successful it will need to be supported – in theatre terms that means, you and I will need to turn up at the box office and buy tickets. And not just the shows we are comfortable with – why not try a different type of show, see a different performer.
Grapevine promotes live entertainment – we believe there is nothing better than seeing real actors, singers, musicians or comedians doing their thing LIVE on stage. We welcome the return of the Spa. We will be there for the gala opening and look forward to seeing a full programme of events for 2016.
You can read our interview with Ken McCluskey of Stars from the Commitments here and why not enter our competition to win tickets to see The Rat Pack Live at the Spa Pavilion on 13th December while you are there?