WHEN the curtains go back on the new autumn season at Richmond’s Georgian Theatre Royal, audiences will not only be able to celebrate the return of live theatre but they will also be able to enjoy comfortable new seating in a revitalised auditorium.

During the lockdown period, the theatre received £375,000 grant from the Hamish Ogston Foundation to fund an ambitious Auditorium Development Project, which enabled the former 1960s benches and chairs to be replaced by comfortable new seating, with better views of the stage.

Further grants from the Theatres Trust, the Pilgrim Trust, the Foyle Foundation and the Normanby Trust have also enabled the Theatre to install a modern Building Management System as part of the works.

This will greatly improve both the effectiveness and efficiency of the ventilation and heating in the Grade I listed building – including the ability to distribute 100 per cent fresh air into the auditorium.

The season itself has a vast array of shows for every taste, including festival performances, cutting-edge drama, top comedy acts, music and children’s entertainment.

It starts on 3 September with a performance by the international pianist Albert Lau, a Young Steinway Artist, who visited the theatre shortly before the first lockdown. His programme will include Beethoven’s ‘Appassionata’ and works by Clara Schumann, Ravel and Chopin. Other musical delights are offered by opera star Graeme Danby and Friends on October 9 and the critically-acclaimed violinist Philippa Mo on October 23.

Classic drama Jane Eyre brings Charlotte Bronte’s much-loved novel to the stage on September 10. This is followed by A Perfect Likeness, which is centred on the intriguing relationship between two titans of English literature, Charles Dickens and Lewis Carroll on September 17, and The Silence of Snow, an exploration of the life of Patrick Hamilton, one of the great English writers of the inter-war years on September 23. For something a little different, there will be a comedy thriller The Killer Question on September 24 when the audience will decide who plays who on the night.

To mark the town’s 950th anniversary, the theatre is hosting a special evening on September 13 with Moira Cameron – the first woman Yeoman Warder, more commonly known as Beefeaters of the Tower.

This is followed by the Richmond Walking and Book Festival, when the theatre will be staging a number of fascinating talks, starting with Henri Ward – a researcher for Horrible Histories – on September 18. Other speakers include Lady Hale, former president of the Supreme Court on September 20; Laura Wood, author of the young adult fiction bestseller A Snowfall of Silver that was inspired by the Georgian Theatre Royal (September 21); and author and TV presenter Sally Magnusson on September 22. Another big name follows later in the season as an encore event for the festival, when the theatre welcomes to its stage the UK Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, on October 15.

The Georgian Theatre has an established reputation for stand-up comedy and the new season sees a welcome return of multi-award winning comic Troy Hawke with Tiles of the Unexpected (25 September) and well-known radio and TV comedian Simon Evans with his new show The Work of the Devil on October 30. Children have their own show Comedy Club 4 Kids on October 31, which features some of the best stand-ups and cabaret stars on the circuit who will be doing a family show for ages six and up.

Those looking for a bit of good-fun nostalgia can enjoy an evening with the talented and popular History Wardrobe who will be exploring the fashion, politics, art and literature of the 1970s in What Were We Thinking? (October 16). This is followed by the Abba tribute band Arrival. They will be creating a truly authentic Abba experience on October 21 and 22.

Richmond Amateur Dramatic Society is performing Tom Stoppard’s comedy masterpiece Arcadia from November 11-13 and Richmond Operatic Society presents a new musical comedy The Addams Family (November 18-20).

Rounding off the season is the legendary Georgian Theatre pantomime Beauty and the Beast with its festive run from December 3 to January 9.

Details of all shows and events are given in the programmeavailable at the box office, via the website at www.georgiantheatreroyal.co.uk or by calling 01748 825252.