The Stamford Corn Exchange Theatre Company is now celebrating 15 years since its conception.
A group of trustees acquired a 40-year lease in 2001 in a bid to secure the future of the ailing building in Broad Street, Stamford, which was in dire need of repair. It had previously been used as an antiques centre.
They began a long process of restoration, resulting in a truly dramatic transformation.
And they have not looked back. The theatre experienced its best January on record and to mark the occasion, enjoyed a celebration show featuring local amateur dramatics societies and dance schools performing to many people who have helped the theatre achieve its goal, of educating in the arts and bringing people together.
Theatre manager Judith Mackie is particularly excited because this year the theatre will be taking a new direction in programming, with the addition of new comedy nights.
Off the Kerb are the top comedy agency in the country and are offering the community the fantastic opportunity of seeing top names here in Stamford at the Corn Exchange.
Romesh Raganathan will be performing his show Irrational on Saturday, April 30, but is already sold out.
Tickets have also been released for Josh Widdicombe’s show, which is sure to prove popular with the comedian currently fronting Channel 4’s The Last Leg and having recently released his own BBC sitcom Josh. Tickets have also been released for Jeremy Hardy and the Autumn comedy line-up will shortly be announced.
Coming direct from the West End is Graeme of Thrones - a parody comedy which has been enjoying rave reviews.
The comedy shows have already proved popular. Rich Hall and Rob Beckett recently performed to sell-out crowds. Both comedians even asked for a copy of the local newspaper and the theatre gladly handed over the Mercury.
Within half an hour of studying it, they turned their performances around to become incredibly locally topical in the most comical manner!
As well as comedians, the theatre is also looking to increase its family entertainment offering, particularly over the upcoming Easter break.
On Sunday, April 3, Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy is sure to delight youngsters and their parents in the show Hairy Maclary and Friends; while later in the week, little girls who missed out on seeing Freezing - An Icy Show, based on the Disney film Frozen, can get their princess fix at Rapunzel the Musical on Wednesday, April 6, at 2pm.
Just a few days later on Sunday, April 10, Pinocchio, brought to you by Ballet Theatre UK.
And for the adults, there’s also lots to look forward to over this season.
Corn Exchange favourites Hawkwind are coming in April along with many original artiste acts such as: Andy Fairweather Low, Fairport Convention, The Fortunes,The Dreamers. Big band fans will love The Syd Lawrence orchestra and our Salute to James Last with the Mike James Orchestra.
Feel good tribute shows are always popular and Judith is looking forward to welcoming the return of the Voodoo Room, Retake That, Aladdinsane and Complete Madness.
The Dressing Room with Cannon and Ball has also been moved to July 24.
To get to this stage has not been an easy process.
Since 2003, when planning permission was granted, the volunteers have worked tirelessly to revamp the building, including replacing the roof and cleaning the facade, installing a 399-seat raked auditorium and lift, as well as a stage, orchestra pit and dressing rooms.
And last year the front of the building was refurbished with the stonework being repaired, as well as well as new state-of-the-art sound system being added to the auditorium.
A heritage room was also opened in 2014, packed with memorabilia of the journey the theatre and the volunteers at the heart of it have been on.
It has all been worthwhile because today the theatre offers all visitors a fantastic experience - you can even get married on the Corn Exchange stage!
And to make sure visitors, both local and from further afield, know about all the upcoming shows, two new websites were launched. One is for the theatre itself and the other is for the Theatre Lounge, which serves pre-show meals. The revamped site have helped generate thousands of new hits, no doubt helping with ticket sales.
Judith once told the Mercury that she didn’t know if the Corn Exchange would ever be finished because she would always have a wish list of things she’d like to achieve.
And to prove her point, she says that before 2016 is over, the trustees hope to add some new additional lighting to the rig.
But she is keen to add: “All this is only possible with the wonderful support from our volunteers, the local community and of course the Mercury.”
To find out more about the Corn Exchange and to book tickets for upcoming shows, visit www.stamfordcornexchange.co.uk or call the box office on 01780 766455.