WITH a red carpet, street performers and champagne flowing, it was an opening night to remember at the New Theatre Royal.
The city centre venue flung open its doors for the first time since 2012 after undergoing a multi-million pound refurbishment.
A huge fundraising effort by the theatre raised the £4.5m needed with a number of organisations and trusts donating money to see the Guildhall Walk attraction revamped.
Chief executive of the theatre Caroline Sharman said it was fantastic to see it open last night with the production of The Great Gatsby.
She said: ‘It is hard to believe that opening night is here. It is extraordinary – fantastic.
‘Having this theatre back open is a great opportunity for the city.
It feels nice to be a part of the theatre’s history - it is an honour.Tristan Pate
‘Not only do we now have 700 seats but we have also got the Minghella Studio named after Oscar-winning film director and screenwriter Anthony Minghella.
‘We can work with the University of Portsmouth and showcase the talent going through there.’
Caroline added: ‘It’s great that we are opening with a classic and the theatre company Blackeyed Theatre performed just before we closed.
‘To have them back after the refurbishment is fantastic.’
The cast of The Great Gatsby were excited to be performing for the theatre’s big night.
Tristan Pate, who plays the character Tom Buchanan, said: ‘We have been doing this production since the start of September but last night was particularly special because it is a new theatre.
‘It feels nice to be a part of the theatre’s history – it’s an honour.’
The 27-year-old added: ‘It’s really exciting to be performing the show and everyone works really well on stage together.
‘There were some nerves but everyone felt confident.’
Fellow cast member Stacey Ghent, who plays Myrtle Wilson, agreed. She added: ‘I was a little nervous beforehand but it is great to be performing on the opening night.
‘You can tell how excited everyone is to see the theatre back open because the place is buzzing.’
As previously reported in The News, the New Theatre Royal was expected to open last autumn.
But further works and a need for more money delayed the opening.
Then, in February Portsmouth City Council decided to loan the theatre £150,000 to see the work finished.