Medieval Bridge over Exe
Medieval Bridge over Exe

Northcott Theatre Backstage Tour and Show

Wednesday, 22 January, 2020


We were all greeted by Lisa and Charlotte from the theatre.  Lisa gave a quick talk on the theatre as it stands today, and Charlotte gave us some exciting news on funding they have just received to talk memories and events from the people of Exeter about the theatre, and asked if we would be interested in becoming involved once the funding organisation had been settled. They are looking for people to help archive these memories and steward forthcoming events to celebrate this venture and she promised to remain in contact with Frances regarding what help, if any, our members can give.  Charlotte also left out a host of programmes, costume designs, and photos of previous show, for us all to see.


Lisa then took us backstage, starting in the D area under the auditorium and explaining that this area houses the old costumes, which they are about to sell on or even give away to other theatres.


We then moved on to the dressing rooms, the larger ones can house 6 actors each and the smaller ones 4. With the theatre now being more of a receiving house, dressing rooms were very tight for space, so the wardrobe room has been rebuilt, with half the space now being used as another larger dressing room. The Northcott no longer makes their own costumes choosing instead to hire in from various costumes hire suppliers either locally or from London, or at times from other venues.


We then made our way through the corridor to the offices, housing about 4 people each.  Walking up the back staircase we reach the scene dock, full of sets, scenery, paint brushes, tins of paint, tools and cables, everything they could need to mend or repaint the scenery. The large double doors from the road open to the back of the stage, and once the stage door is open any set can be rolled straight from lorry onto stage with very little effort.


Next we made our way onto the stage where, if you look up you can see the lighting gantry up higher to the lanterns, these are a set of vents that operate if the smoke machine is used on stage or, in the event of fire, it allows the audience to vacate the building.


Lastly a visit by some was made to the lighting box where were the computers, buttons, sound boxes and may other effects that are used for stage effects and cues - the magic!


The Footlights Exeter University Students Director, Ben, gave us a talk on how he came to decide on which show to put on, how money was always an issue, how costumes were made and music performed


Ben had applied for the rights for Ghost back in September and had to seek permissionfor any changes. Since then the students have been very busy with rehearsals, set making and costumes, alongside working towards their degrees.


Lunch was then served,much enjoyed by all.


Showtime: We all took our seats, not knowing how the show would be received from an amateur group, but fears put aside, great music, dancing and acting, with a brilliant performance from the clairvoyant character, played by Woopie Goldberg in the film, by a Male. He was outstanding, with a strong, beautiful voice, his over the top comedy was well delivered and received by the audience.


The whole cast did a splendid job.  The event was one to be very proud of and richly deserved the long standing ovation.


Thanks to Janet Gale for this write-up.

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