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Finding out what goes on behind the scenes at Brighton Dome

PUBLISHED: 16:17 25 March 2014 | UPDATED: 14:07 31 March 2014

The concert hall from above

The concert hall from above

Jim Holden www.jimholden.co.uk 07590 683036

If you've ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at Brighton Dome, here's your chance

Forty years ago, a then-unknown Swedish pop group triumphed in The Dome at that year’s Eurovision concert. Abba became one of the biggest-selling groups of all time and thus Brighton Dome’s place was secured in the annals of pop history.

But this venue, which also played host to Jim Hendrix in 1967 and David Bowie in 1969, has a history that stretches far beyond chart music. The building was originally commissioned to house the Prince Regent’s horses, and its completion in 1803 almost bankrupted the profligate prince. With such a long and fascinating lineage, it isn’t surprising that its interior is a treasure trove of saucy tales and ghostly goings-on.

Patrons of Brighton Dome and Festival were invited to a behind-the-scenes tour, which, alongside Sussex Life’s photographer, I was permitted to join. With no head for heights, I blinked nervously at the view from the lighting net high above the concert hall – under the ‘onion’ itself – admired the view across Brighton from the roof, and finally got a feel for how the myriad performers over the years have felt treading its boards.

In between were labyrnthine corridors, including the newly refurbished and reopened secret passageway used by King George IV, the former Prince Regent, to visit his secret mistress Maria Fitzherbert. I can’t say I felt the reverberations of such ancient assignations, but staff at Brighton Dome report other visitations. Senior Technician Nick Pitcher moved offices because he found his old one too spooky; other staff members have reported hearing a full orchestra over the tannoy system in the early hours of the morning, and a ghostly male figure in Regency dress has been spotted doing the rounds.

The Concert Hall itself is a triumph of engineering. Refurbished in the Thirties, the impressive red and gold interior holds just over 1,500 people. The seats are in blocks, and can be dismantled and removed for standing concerts (a video on brightondome.org shows how it is done). Panels at the side of the stage can be moved to form a Proscenium Arch. All of this helps the venue to stage a wide variety of events, from comedy to ballet, for a contemporary audience.

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Become a Patron

The Patrons Circle is a group of individuals with a shared passion for exploring and supporting the arts in Brighton. The Circle’s support helps Brighton Dome and Festival continue to make Brighton and Hove the exciting and artistically rich community that it is today.

To thank you for your commitment, Patrons Circle members will enjoy the following special benefits. They include but are not limited to:

-Invitations to unique events throughout the year, such as a private lunch with the festival Guest Director, a pre-festival sneak peek, exclusive rehearsals and artist talks, and other glimpses behind the scenes.

-Priority access and a personalised service.

-Acknowledgement in print and online.

-Complimentary membership of Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival.

For further information about becoming a Patron you can go to www.brightondome.org/support_us or contact Ceri Eldin on ceri.eldin@brightondome.org

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