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Opera House raises curtain on 100th birthday celebrations

Free family open day being held on Saturday 8 September

Actress Patricia Hodge helps launch Centenary Season

The Opera House Manchester is opening its doors to the public in celebration of its forthcoming 100th Anniversary with a free family open day.

The Opera House opened on Boxing Day 1912 and this autumn will see a series of events to mark its Centenary, including the publication of a History of the Opera House, a gala performance of this year’s pantomime Peter Pan and a free family open day on Saturday 8 September.

Visitors will get the chance to learn more about the Opera House, its history, shows and also see behind the scenes – from the dressing rooms to the stage.

Activities on offer will include:

•    Interactive backstage tours – follow in the footsteps of stars like Michael Ball, Michael Crawford and Zach Braff!
•    Costume displays – see costumes from shows like Spamalot, South Pacific and Legally Blonde
•    Face painting
•    On stage performances from up-and-coming talent
•    Technical demonstrations from the theatre’s stage crew
•    Children’s craft activities
•    Photographs from behind the scenes at last year’s panto Cinderella, taken by Phil Tragen
•    Storytelling sessions
•    Drama and dance workshops for youngsters (pre-booking a place advisable – call Lisa Prince on 0161 828 1707 for more information)
•    Competitions
•    A chance to record your memories of the Opera House on the Cententary Memory Tree
•    Display of archive material from over the past 100 years
•    Refreshments available

The open day will be officially opened by Opera House panto favourite Tam Ryan, who is back for the third year on the run as Smee in this year’s Peter Pan.

Sarah Bleasdale, general manager of the Opera House, said: 'Our forthcoming free family open day is a wonderful opportunity for people to come along and learn more about what goes on behind the scenes!'

'We’re so proud to be celebrating 100 glorious years of entertaining theatregoers, and are looking forward to a wonderful few months marking this historic milestone in the run up to our actual birthday, on Boxing Day.'

And the Quay Street venue launched its Centenary Season in style – with the help of star of stage and screen, actress Patricia Hodge.

The theatre has renamed its Auditorium Bar the ‘Centenary Bar’ in honour of the forthcoming milestone – and Patricia Hodge was on hand to officially rename it.

Patricia unveiled a plaque to commemorate the occasion.

She said: 'I am delighted to be part of the Opera House's 100 year celebrations and I was very honoured to be asked to open the newly-named Centenary Bar. Manchester holds the happiest memories for me. We are privileged to be playing the Opera House and I know I join with so many members of our profession in wishing this wonderful theatre a very happy Centenary Season.'

Added Sarah: 'We’re delighted Patricia Hodge officially renamed our ‘Centenary Bar’ while at the Opera House with Dandy Dick. It’s a real honour to have an actress of Patricia’s stature helping us launch our exciting Centenary season.'