St. John's Road,
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Buxton Opera House (Official)
Architects: W.R. Bryden
Previous Names: Pavilion Theatre, Palace Theatre, Hippodrome Theatre, Hippodrome Cinema, Playhouse, Pavilion Arts Centre
Located in Buxton, Derbyshire. The Pavilion Theatre was opened in August 1889. Seating was provided for 600 in orchestra stalls and balcony levels. In 1903, the magnificent Opera House (designed by noted theatre architect Frank Matcham) was built adjacent to the Pavilion Theatre. The Pavilion Theatre was then referred to as the ‘old’ theatre and was re-named Palace Theatre.
In 1909, it was renamed Hippodrome Theatre, and films were being screened as part of the programme. Eventually it went over to screening films as a full-time cinema. The Hippodrome Cinema was closed on 30th January 1937 with Cary Grant in “The Amazing Quest of Ernest Bliss”.
It later was re-named Playhouse and was used for music and drama festivals. It was the home of the Buxton Repertory Company from 1945 to 1979. Since then, it has served as a nightclub, and the upper parts of the auditorium have been hidden by the insertion of a false ceiling. It then became known as the Paxton Suite, as part of the Buxton Opera House, and was a 250-seat multi-function room.
In September 2010 it was remodelled into the Pavilion Arts Centre. The false ceiling has been removed and the balcony brought back into use to create a 360-seat theatre, and with a 93-seat studio theatre on the former stage, which can be partitioned off and soundproofed.
In 2016-2017 High Peak Theatre Trust, which operates the Pavilion Arts Centre and the Opera House, realised that all the major arts were being catered for across these two venues - except film. So a new screen was installed, industry standard projection and sound equipment was acquired, and the Buxton Cinema opened on 24th December 2017 with the new release “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”, starring Mark Hamill & Daisy Ridley. Films now utilise roughly half of the days in each month.
Meanwhile, and perhaps not too coincidentally, Buxton Film, a non-profit community cinema, lost its principal venue in January 2017, when the 40-seat Paupers Pit performance venue in the basement of the Old Hall Hotel closed due to the redevelopment of The Crescent. Buxton Film presentations now form part of the Buxton Cinema’s programme.
Buxton Cinema utilises all the auditorium space at the Pavilion Arts Centre. Which means that patrons have a rather unique opportunity to purchase tickets in the ‘bleaches’: tiered retractable seating which sits behind the free-standing front stalls seats and in front of the circle, which does not overhang the bleachers.
It is a Grade II Listed building.
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