More than 10 years after it closed its doors, Leicester’s Haymarket Theatre re-opened to the public in March 2018.
The refurbishment took approximately 10 months to complete at a cost of £3.6m and has reinvigorated and modernised the theatre. The flexibility of the venue means it can now host a wide range of events and live performances, including the rapidly-growing eSports industry.
The refurbishment of the theatre has been led by the Haymarket Consortium, which was formed with the intention of bringing the building back to life. The Consortium comprises Chris Knight (technical/training), Jed Spittle (financial/artistic), John Jenkins (premises/licensee), Ellyn Phillips (training/artistic) and Natalie Cheary (PR/marketing).
Premier recently spoke to Natalie about some of the highlights of the refurbished theatre and the feedback so far:
“Technically, in terms of our production values, we are absolutely top end. Chris Knight has been around the block many times and he’s done everything from the Royal Variety Performance to West End shows. He has brought in the most astonishing production equipment. Everyone who has seen a show so far has said you cannot fault the production side of things.
“In the lobby we’ve got these massive windows that used to have a film on them back in the day. All of that has been stripped off and we’ve put in a huge glass entrance. It’s now such an impressive space to be in. We’ve just had some photography students taking pictures of the architecture and it’s really astonishing.
“The feedback so far has been fantastic. We’ve had a beer festival, a circus show, a musical and a ballet, so there has been a range of events. The feedback has been a mixture of ‘wow, it looks and sounds fantastic’ but also there a great deal of nostalgia. At the heart it’s the same theatre that people grew up with. It’s that fondness for the theatre that is one of the reasons I got involved.”
The theatre’s two bars – the main foyer bar and the upstairs bar – have been fully refurbished and brand new toilets and baby-changing facilities have been installed. Inside the revamped auditorium, 901 seats have been installed, with each of the brand new seats offering fantastic views of the Haymarket’s magnificent stage – still the largest in England.
Behind the scenes, production facilities and backstage areas have been refurbished, a new ‘green screen’ room and TV gallery have been provided, and the dressing rooms have been painted in colours inspired by Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat – the musical that had its first major production at the Leicester Haymarket Theatre back in 1974.
With brand new lighting and sound systems in place, the building has been refurbished and upgraded to provide a versatile venue for a wide range of events and live performances.
Local company Oliveti Group acted as main contractor for these works. Founded in 1992, the Oliveti Group has worked on a number of projects in Leicestershire and the surrounding area, including a refurbishment of Leicester City’s club shop, a refurbishment of a complete housing estate for Oadby and Wigston Council + contracts for Leicestershire Constabulary & East Midlands Airport.
Simon Cottom, Projects Director for Oliveti Group, spoke to Premier Construction about their work on the Haymarket Theatre:
“Originally this project started off as a very basic refurb of the building. It was just going to be repairs and brought up to a reasonable standard so it could be used and then developed over time. Luckily for the project Leicester City Council changed their vision and it was decided that further investment was warranted. This was great news because as a local contractor employing local people we were proud to bring back to life an iconic building like the Haymarket.
“We’ve installed all new M&E services to bring the building up to regulations. In the auditorium new seating, flooring, lighting and sound equipment have been installed. The foyer has also been revamped with two refurbished bars and a new aluminium glazed front entrance/facade. All areas have now been given back to the Haymarket Consortium as usable spaces.
“We’re not your typical main contractor, we obviously have a sub-contractor chain but we also employ 46 of our own skilled workforce. We can control the work we take on and how we facilitate that work. This was definitely a challenging project but the way we work has helped us maintain a good working relationship with the client team and other people involved.”
The handover of the building to the Haymarket consortium marked the completion of the first phase of works. Phase two – which will provide new lift facilities and a permanent ticket office and cloakroom – will continue on site until next winter. Works to refurbish the theatre steps and refresh the piazza area are being carried out by the owners of the Haymarket Shopping Centre.
The Haymarket Theatre opened in 1973 and closed in 2007, leaving the city council tied into a 99-year lease and responsible for an annual bill of around £180,000 in service charges and costs. From 2021, the Haymarket consortium will take over responsibility for those charges.
To find out more, please visit www.haytheatre.com.
Oliveti Construction Ltd
Oliveti Construction Ltd is a leading main contractor specialising in the delivery of projects within the leisure, retail, commercial, education, social housing and public sectors. The company has been in operation for more than 20 years and within this time has worked on a range of prestigious projects including Boulter Crescent for Oadby & Wigston Borough Council; a 217-storey block of flats for Leicester City Council; a refurbishment scheme for Leicestershire Police; and various school refurbishment and extension projects for Leicester City Council, Leicestershire County Council and other clients.
Most recently, Oliveti Construction Ltd was appointed as the main contractor on the Haymarket Theatre project. As main contractor, Oliveti Construction Ltd was responsible for the coordination and implementation of all aspects of the work, ensuring the project remained on track to meet its planned opening date.
Simon Cottom, Oliveti Construction Ltd, said:
“As a Leicester based contractor we were proud and felt very privileged to be involved on such an iconic building for one of our major clients. The satisfaction of bringing a derelict building back to life and seeing it operate once again was amazing.
“The wealth of knowledge and experience we gained from this project was invaluable, as our previous experience of working in a theatre environment was minimal. Our workforce is local to Leicester and will benefit from having the Theatre open again.”
“At Oliveti Construction Ltd we take great pride in the relationships we have built with our clients and end users. Our project teams are known for finding cost savings on each project and for offering effective solutions to issues that may arise. As such our clients trust us to give them a hassle free service. This is proven by our continued growth over the years and the number of clients that come back to us again and again.”