The Marina, London Road North,
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The Marina Theatre started life as a skating rink that, in 1878 was converted to a theatre by architect R.F. Brett. This proved successful and in 1901 noted theatre architect Ernest Runtz was called in to rebuild the theatre, using parts of the existing building.
In turn this was largely rebuilt in 1930 when the Marina Theatre re-opened as a cinema under the control of Associated British Cinemas(ABC), the architect this time was Francis Burdett Ward. Seating was provided for 962. It was re-named ABC in 1962 and was taken over by an independent operator from 3rd August 1975 and re-named Marina Cinema again. A second screen seating 80 was added in what had originally been an old bar in the theatre. It closed at the end of 1984.
It was bought by the town Council in 1988 and converted back into mixed theatre/film use, just 24 hours before demolition was due to commence! It replaced the Sparrows Nest Theatre as a civic venue and required a lot of renovation.
It now seats 751, almost equally split between the stalls and balcony, with the projection suite at the rear of the stalls with a near level throw to the screen. It is decorated in a rather fierce green colour with seating in green and blue, the seating having originated from several sources (including the town’s former Odeon).
The proscenium arch (width 8.5 mtrs) is almost certainly that designed by Runtz as it closely matches the contemporary Empire Theatre Middlesbrough by Runtz, and is far higher than that need for a cinema. The stage is 9 mtrs deep and there are 5 dressing rooms and 2 band rooms.
Front of house space is minimal, particularly on the ground floor, but the Marina remains a great place to see a film in opulent, old-time surroundings.
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