Temporary theatre costing £1.5m to open in Dartford

The Orchard Theatre closed after the discovery of Raac concrete. Credit: ITV News Meridian

A temporary theatre which is expected to cost £1.5m to build will be opening in Dartford.

Dartford Borough Council and Trafalgar Theatres will be building the venue after the discovery of crumbling Raac concrete forced the closure of The Orchard Theatre.

Orchard West will be located on the Westgate site near to The Orchard Theatre and is due to open in late November.

The 1,000 seat venue will be showing performances including this year's pantomime, Beauty and the Beast.

Meanwhile, building work to replace the auditorium roof at the Orchard Theatre is due to begin this month with works expected to be completed in late 2024.

Jeremy Kite, leader of Dartford Borough Council, said: “Our theatre is such an important part of life for so many Dartford residents that when we were forced to close the venue, we were determined to find a way for the show to go on. 

"The provision of Orchard West until we can re-open our much-loved venue means that not just our amazing pantomime, but a whole range of productions from local groups right through to the big names and West End performances can continue to light up the cultural life of our town. 

"Dartford Borough Council prides itself on putting the needs of residents first and we are proud to have both the determination and the resources to have found a solution to this unforeseen problem. 

"Stepping in like this is not the action every Council would take but we cherish arts and culture and urge our residents to support the theatre like never before.”

Helen Enright, CEO of Trafalgar Theatres and COO of Trafalgar Entertainment, said: “Working with Dartford Borough Council to deliver this project in a short-time frame – and hearing messages of support from thousands of theatregoers over the past few weeks - has cemented our commitment to the cultural life of the town."

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