THE champagne flowed, the house was packed, and even “the queen” dropped in for what was a fittingly spectacular opening to Warrnambool’s revamped and renamed Lighthouse Theatre.
Before modern orchestra Deep Blue could test the new sound and light system to its full potential, about 540 arts enthusiasts took in the expanded foyer and browsed the results of the $9.3 million upgrade to the building that began life as the Warrnambool Town Hall in 1891.
Click the photo to view the Lighthouse Theatre gallery.
There was a welcome to country and speeches from Warrnambool mayor Jacinta Ermacora, local arts figure John McInnes and member for South West Coast Denis Napthine, but the show was well and truly stolen by surprise special guest Her Majesty The Queen (aka Gerry Connolly).
“I would like to thank you all for your most generous gift — four of the ugliest chandeliers I have ever encountered,” she said in reference to the changed decor and the unpopular light fittings that have now gone from inside the new theatre.
Speaking prior to the big launch, theatre manager Greg Diamantis admitted to being nervous and excited.
“There have been little challenges we hadn’t anticipated but the vibe in the space is just amazing,” he said.
Dr Napthine said it was a magnificent night for Warrnambool. “This place is the real heart and soul of Warrnambool,” he said.
During her speech, Cr Ermacora recalled her introduction to the venue as a nine-year-old ballerina, before describing the theatre as the “cultural beacon of the region”.
Deep Blue reimagined the orchestra and put the new stage through its paces with a widely appealing set that included stilt-walking, a David Bowie medley and a rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody that saw them joined by Warrnambool choirs Cantori and The Resonators.
Then it was upstairs into the equally refurbished Lighthouse Studio, where Warrnambool group Tank Dilemma led the after-party.