The New Wolsey Theatre we know today opened its doors in 2001, rising out of the ashes of the previous company which operated from 1979 to 1999. The New Wolsey has since gone from strength to strength, becoming a valued part of the fabric and culture of the town. As one of Ipswich’s pre-eminent theatres, it has attracted national attention and talent from far and wide.
The theatre can seat up to 400 people and is a great place to visit for the people of Ipswich and those coming from a wider area – the 2pm and 7pm times in particular are very popular!
This particular behind the scenes tour was to highlight their current show – ‘Grandma saves the day’ – which is based on the famous Giles family and the era of 1980’s Britain. Many of you will remember Grandma’s famous phase “Gertcha” as well as the show itself – with its catchy musical numbers it is well worth a visit.
Until the tour, I had no idea just how much work is put into producing these shows. The Deputy Stage Manager is the hub of everything and there is a great deal of communication between herself and various sound and lighting technicians, actors, actresses, stagehands and pyrotechnic operators together with the staff who operate the stage props. Working as a team, everyone plays a huge role in bringing these shows to life.
Many of you will also have heard of the phrase ‘into the limelight’. This saying comes from the theatre itself because when the theatres did their first shows back in the Victorian era, a special lamp was used which emitted the colour green – so when the budding actors and actresses went on stage, they were literally going into ‘the limelight’.
Another phrase – ‘break a leg’ – comes about from when the actors and actresses took their bow at the end of the show. Because it was always deemed proper to bring the left leg back as far as possible whilst enjoying the applause, when someone was telling the actor to break a leg, what they actually meant was to have a good show.
The tour itself lasted approximately 2 hours and it was a fun, interesting, fact filled afternoon that I am sure our members appreciated greatly. If any of our members have an interest in the inner workings of the theatre, I would thoroughly recommend keeping an eye for our next ‘behind the scenes’ tour at the New Wolsey.