High Sheriff of Derbyshire's concert will kick off fundraising campaign for Buxton Opera House

A musical event in February will kick off a fundraising campaign with the aim of modernising and improving the backstage areas of Buxton Opera House.

Friday, 28th January 2022, 5:10 pm

High Sheriff of Derbyshire Louise Potter, who is also a patron for Buxton Opera House, has picked the theatre as her chosen charity during her term in office.

She said: “As High Sheriff of Derbyshire, I very much want to play a positive part in highlighting the outstanding heritage in our beautiful county.

“Living in Buxton, I feel that it is fitting to focus on a practical project of heritage building improvement.”

Louise Potter, the High Sheriff of Derbyshire, has organised a fundraising concert as part of a campaign to modernise the backstage areas of Buxton Opera House

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    Frank Matcham

    The Buxton Opera House opened in 1903 and was designed by the great theatre architect, Frank Matcham. During his 40-year career he was responsible for the design and construction of over 100 theatres.

    No two buildings were ever the same, but they had a very personal style and theatrical flair.

    Many were demolished during the 1950s and 1960s, but the survivors are now much admired and many have been refurbished with the most modern technical and audience facilities, while retaining beautiful period details such as beautiful painted ceilings and decorative plaster work.

    Buxton Opera House is launching a new fundraiser to revamp and modernise the backstage areas. Pictured - Paul Kerryson CEO in one of the dressing rooms.


    Louise said: “Our Matcham theatre is such a vital cultural and architectural asset to the county.

    “The existing back stage environment is outdated and needs considerable redevelopment including replacing the outdated flying system, a flat stage floor suitable for dance and modern designs, plus much needed additional rehearsal and dressing room space.

    “To assist the theatre to attract first class companies the facilities need to meet modern needs, of which includes hosting the annual Buxton International Festival.”

    And Paul Kerryson, CEO of the opera house also explained the importance of improving the backstage areas.

    “We have a truly fabulous front of house area but the back stage area is antiquated and not really fit for purpose,” he said.

    “Not much has changed since it was built in 1903 which is great if we were a museum but we are a working theatre.

    “There is no step-free access, there aren’t enough toilets or showers and it’s stopping the big companies coming to us putting on the big shows.

    “There was a time when people didn’t mind if there wasn’t a shower or they had to queue for the loo but this is the 21st century and times have changed and actors, musicians and dancers all expect a higher standard than we can offer.”

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    He explained the theatre will always attract comedians and tribute acts but he wants more for the people of the High Peak.

    He said: “This is your theatre and although the backstage work won’t be something you will ever see, it will be something you benefit from.

    “When the refurbishments are done we will be able to bring in more musicals, shows with different set requirements and support bigger casts.

    “This will mean we can offer a broader programme which means more people can come and enjoy themselves.

    “We need to be a Matcham theatre in the modern world and at the moment we really aren’t.

    “There are other theatres older than Buxton’s which have had work done and with every year we don’t get it sorted it is keeping us back.

    “Our grand old lady of Buxton needs a facelift which is why I think it’s brilliant Louise is supporting our theatre and organising a fundraiser which will bring our plight to the public attention.”


    Louise has organised a fundraising concert, For One Night Only, which is taking place on Friday February 18.

    She said: “I am very excited to be able to say the soloists for this classical concert are the world-renowned soprano Danielle de Niese and tenor Nicky Spence.

    “Conductor John Andrews, Northern Chamber Orchestra and Kinder Chorus will also be joining us. This is a project which can benefit everyone.”

    Danielle regularly appears on the world’s most prestigious opera and concert stages and this season is singing at the Royal Opera House as Musetta in La Boheme.

    In 2020 Nicky won the BBC Music Magazine Vocal Award and Gramophone’s Solo Vocal Award and this year he will make his role debut as Siegmund in a new production of Die Walküre for the English National Opera directed by Richard Jones and conducted by Martyn Brabbins.

    One Night Only will take place at Buxton Opera House on February 18. Tickets range from £20-£65 for One Night Only.

    For more information, tickets or to make a donation see https://buxtonoperahouse.org.uk/event/one-night-only. Tickets can also be booked through the box office on 01298 72190.