Patron's backstage and rooftop tour: a rare glimpse behind the scenes

11 Feb 2014

One of the most rewarding ways that Brighton Dome is able to give back to its generous supporters is by enabling them to have a unique and intimate relationship with the venue.
Patrons of Brighton Dome are provided with rare opportunities to gain an insight into the history and working life of the building, unseen by the general public.

At the end of January, Patrons were treated to an exclusive 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.

If the title wasn’t clue enough, the roof top tour certainly required a head for heights. The first point of call was the Dome’s roof, where Patrons were led through the labyrinthine corridors of the Dome’s 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. In the distance, of course, is a glimpse of the sea.

After venturing onto the roof, Patrons returned into the building to go inside the Dome, which nestles a wealth of secrets. The walls of the Dome are adorned with intricate patterns remaining from the building’s original life as the royal stables of the flamboyant King George IV.

The Dome’s 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. Patrons 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 is just as spectacular from the sidelines.

Following this, Patrons were able to see the entrance to a tunnel at the bottom of the Dome which links the building directly to the Royal Pavilion. Rumours abound as to the tunnel’s purpose: some say it was 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. Given a chance to see inside the Dome’s spectacular organ, and go underneath the stage to the orchestra pit (not as glamourous as you might expect), the 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, they were able to see what it is 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 Patrons 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.