Newest theatre in town and it's 'electric': creatives open the doors Blackpool's Old Electric Theatre and first production 'Wonderland'
It was once a run-down resort nightclub in the town centre but after catching the eye of Melanie Whitehead, some tender loving care from an army of creative and National Lottery funding, Blackpool’s newest theatre space will throw open ‘its doors to a ‘Wonderland.’
The former premises occupied by Club Domain and Sanuk nightclubs have now been transformed to make the Old Electric Theatre in Springfield Road, a new community hub that is hoped will inspire individuals from all backgrounds to engage with the arts.
Melanie is the artistic director of The Electric Sunshine Project CIC, the collective behind the lottery funded renovation.
And on July 30 they will invite the first audiences to experience the new theatre venue for its first production, and adventure down the rabbit hole that is ‘Wonderland.’
After spending many years with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Melanie set up the ESP in 2016 with the ambition to secure a space to lead workshops, projects and more opportunities for disconnected communities to get involved with performance arts.
She said: “I had been looking for somewhere to call home and seen the venue a few times and while some saw this neglected nightclub I had this vision of the dance floor becoming an amphitheatre, and then these break out areas to create a mezzanine, and ultimately I felt with its history it was just the right place for stories to be told.
“We got the keys in August and its blown me away just how much work the members of the company have put in - they’ve buoyed me along the whole way and we’ve stripped the building back and tried to celebrate the history of the place and it’s wonderful it has come alive.”
The works for the theatre took place in lockdown of the pandemic, and was completed by a team of around 30 volunteers. The space now offers the theatre hall, meeting room, office spaces, sound studio and multi-purpose workshop areas.
With a focus on showcasing local talent Melanie has also commissioned a collection of unique works for the theatre from artist Janine Walker, who interesting works adorn various areas.
It is hoped more artists will be able to share works in the coming months.
Member T Dunderdale who will be performing in the upcoming production said: "I've met so many different people since joining the Electric Sunshine Project and to see it grow and now have own theatre space it's incredible.
"It's been an organic process and a really good experience and now the theatre - well that is a 'Wonderland' in itself and we really can't wait to bring it to life."
Fellow member Christine Bradley echoed the sentiments, she added: "I worked in aviation for 35 years and was looking for something else for me - a way I could get creative.
"I was invited by Melanie to come along and I just find it all so special - it's a wonderful place to be."
Wonderland an interactive theatre experience runs at The Old Electric from July 30 to August 1 with performances starting at 4.30pm on Friday and performances at hour intervals all day on Saturday and Sunday.
Tickets have been selling well and are priced at £5 and can be booked online at www.theoldelectric.co.uk or bought in cash by visiting the venue in person.