It was the first public performance to be held at the Grade II* listed theatre in two years since it was closed for an extensive renovation project to be carried out.
There was much acclaim at the reopening for the attention to detail in bringing the building back to the glory of its first opening in 1963, while visitors also enjoyed modern enhancements such as new heating and air conditioning systems, toilets, flooring, seats, ceilings and lifts. Other behind-the-scenes improvements include a new state-of-the-art lighting bridge and replacement of old electrical equipment.
Councillor David Tutt, Leader of Eastbourne Borough Council, said: “It was wonderful to see a packed house at the reopening with everyone enjoying a fantastic concert in stunning surroundings.
“It was the perfect way to celebrate the successful completion of this major renovation project and we are now looking forward to the opening of Devonshire Quarter’s new Welcome Building, which will offer premier conferencing facilities.”
The theatre refurbishment is part of Eastbourne Borough Council’s £54 million project to create Devonshire Quarter, a first-class cultural, conferencing and sporting complex.
The Welcome Building will provide conference halls, break out and hospitality areas and the site’s central box office.
Tennis facilities both on and off court have seen considerable improvements including the building of a new players’ village, and work is well underway on new practice courts.
An elegant new plaza provides an attractive gateway into the theatres, conference facilities and Towner Art Gallery and ensures that Devonshire Quarter is fully accessible to all visitors.
Gary Tidmarsh, Director at Levitt Bernstein – Devonshire Park architects – said: “We’re delighted that the Congress Theatre is now back in action, seamlessly integrating high quality, modern facilities into a restored historical context.
“Its reopening puts Devonshire Park firmly on the map as a significant cultural destination.”
Jason Griffiths, Regional Director of Vinci Construction UK, said: “Vinci Construction UK is privileged to have extensively refurbished the Congress Theatre in Eastbourne. We are delighted that the end product will give so much pleasure back to the local community for years to come”.