Norwich Theatre Royal isn't one of my favourite venues since they carried out major refurbishment a number of years ago. It feels much more crowded than in days of yore and the auditorium can be something of a nightmare with a rather claustrophobic feel. In the stalls each row has over 30 seats but there are no gangways down the middle. So if you are in the middle numbered seats and arrive close to the start of a production you have to annoy numerous people by trying to get passed them. I would also have thought that not having a gangway is a health and safety hazzard. In the case of fire, numerous people could be trapped in the middle of a row with little chance of getting out.
I rarely go to the Theatre Royal nowadays but was a regular visitor many years ago when I worked on the local newspaper. I regularly attended to review plays, concerts and anything else going on. I remember one delightful week in the 1970s which saw Deep Purple, David Bowie and Monty Python appear all within a six day period.
My overriding memory of those days, however, was of general manager Dick Condon - a hugely friendly Irishman with the glint of a showman and the gift of the gab. Dick was legendary and looked after the Media royally. There were drinks at half-time, drinks at the end and always a smile and a chat. Dick was a one off and would often sell shows by appearing outside to promote to passing locals. He once famously did this with Barry Humphries who wasn't dressed as Dame Edna at the time.
Dick was always highly embarrassing as he would be on the microphone in the foyer before a performance and announce people as they arrived. On numerous occasions I was ushered in with a witty rejoinder or phrase. I got so embarrassed by it that I would await the arrival of a particularly tall man and try to slink in hidden by him. It never seemed to work, however. They were great days though. Dick never took offence if you gave something a bad review and would always seek opinions on who should be signed up to appear. He did ask to be called Richard for a while after the local newspaper had referred to him as Dick CONDOM thanks to a spelling error.
Reviewing is in itself an art form and I will tell you a little about the day I received a death threat and the problems of reviewing some favourite artists in a later blog.
Today is the start of four days of heritage in Norwich and we have numerous visits lined-up for the entire day and I will write about these in tomorrow's blog.