We’re very lucky to have a great number of supporters and that we can offer a year-round programme of supporters' events, one of which is a patrons' roof top tour and this January we were able to treat patrons to an exclusive backstage and roof top tour of the venue, allowing a glimpse into the building’s unusual history, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at a working theatre.
So along with some the development team our patrons set off on the roof top tour. If the title wasn’t clue enough, this little trip certainly required a head for heights. The first point of call was Brighton Dome’s roof, where the group were led through the labyrinthine corridors of production areas and out on to the top of the building.
Stepping out on to rarely visited terrain, the roof not only allows for an up close and personal view of the dome itself, it also provides stunning views of the Royal Pavilion and Pavilion Gardens and in the distance a glimpse of the sea.
After venturing onto the roof the tour returned inside - here nestles a wealth of history and secrets… The walls of Brighton Dome are adorned with intricate patterns remaining from the building’s original life as the royal stables of the flamboyant King George IV.
Inside the Concert Hall and under the actual ‘dome’ the group learnt that the interior now acts as a lighting rig for performances and is the stomping ground for brave production staff, who gamely work across a suspension net that overlooks the entire auditorium. Those with daredevil tendencies were invited to try walking across the net themselves, although many heeded the advice not to look down! For those not entirely at one with hovering a hundred feet in the air whilst standing on a net, the view of the auditorium was just as spectacular from the sidelines.
Following this, was a sojourn to the entrance to a tunnel beneath Brighton Dome which links the building directly to the Royal Pavilion. Rumours abound as to the tunnel’s purpose: some say it was built so that George VI could visit his secret mistress, whilst others claim it was so that he could avoid seeing his unaffectionate public.
The next stop, via the backstage dressing rooms, was the Concert Hall stage. Then we took the chance to see inside our spectacular organ and go underneath the stage to the orchestra pit (not quite what you might expect). Our patrons finally took centre stage - standing on the same stage that has previously hosted Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Pink Floyd and ABBA’s 1974 Eurovision victory, giving them insight into what it could be like to perform to an audience of 1,700 – who are a lot closer to the stage than you would think.
Before the end of the tour, there was one final secret for the building to give up: the group were regaled with tales of the ghosts that frequent the building late at night. For some reason, at this point many of the Patrons seemed relieved that this was the end of the tour…
This exciting opportunity is one of the many privileges available exclusively to members of the Patrons Circle, with a range of further bespoke, rare events to follow throughout the rest of the year.