Frank Sinatra, Liza Minelli, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, The Who, Davis Bowie, Adele and every major orchestra in the world. The Royal Albert Hall has seen them all. This iconic building is one of THE venues in the world for the performing arts.
The history, the architecture and the ideas of it are all on a gigantic scale. When you first walk into it you are impressed by the grandeur, the colour, the 5272 seats, the boxes – the sheer red and gold of it. You hardly know where to look. You feel dwarfed by its size.
But when you step onto the stage or into the arena you can sense something different. Despite its magnitude it has an intimacy – you sense a closeness with the audience. It is something to do with the circular, wrap-round nature of the building. This is very special – especially in the arena where the audience surrounds you completely. From the choir stalls you look out on one of THE sights of the performing world. When you sing it has to be BIG and OUT because it has to travel so far. Yet it is also possible to sing together quietly and with intensity – a hushed sound – and be just as magical. These are the dynamics of this special space – an 1871 equivalent of the gladiator’s colosseum.
For me this is why it is the nation’s village hall. It’s the place where people come to do all sorts of things but as it’s the nation’s things, they do them on a grander scale.
Theatretrain performed its first large-scale show at the Bloomsbury Theatre and that seats about 500 but on that day Robert and I said to ourselves – one day we shall play the Royal Albert Hall! We waited until 2004 for it to happen and we have now performed there 11 times. It never ceases to thrill as you walk to the door and enter. It’s bigger than you are and that is a concept that we have passed on to our students.
If you are in something big you might think that you would be lost amid all the numbers. Strangely though it doesn’t work like that. In fact, you feel even more connected to everyone else who has to play their part. And when all 1200 of you do something at the same moment you can feel the thrill passing through the audience.
I like to think it’s one of those occasions in your life where you understand how interconnected we all are being bigger as a group and more powerful being together. Francis Fowke and Henry Y.D. Scott, the designers of this special space I salute your glorious building which has recently reached its 150th birthday.
For almost 30 years Theatretrain has been providing young people with exceptional classes in dancing, acting and singing as well as providing first-class opportunities to perform in venues such as The London Palladium, Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and of course the beloved Royal Albert Hall. If you would like further information on our international award-winning performing arts schools at over 70 locations across the UK then visit www.theatretrain.co.uk.