Sunday 17th January marked the end of an era as the Theatre Royal Fancy Dress Hire Unit, run by members of the Theatre Royal Applause Club, ceased to operate.
It seems that even with TR2, the theatre itself is bursting at the seams and some departments need to expand – so the hire unit has been rendered homeless.
They had their first customer in May 1985 after volunteers spent the previous month scrubbing out and cleaning up the old paint shop at Cattedown School. TRAC was assured this would be a temporary arrangement before a more suitable home could be found for them. In fact they were there 12 years before they took up residence in a room beneath the Drum stage.
Since 1985, they have hired out costumes, both individual items and wardrobes for whole productions, to schools, companies, community projects and people attending fancy dress parties and weddings – one Torbay couple even got married as a rabbit and a bear. The income from the unit has swelled the theatre’s coffers.
Over the years, TRAC chairman Jeanette Nichols and 21 helpers have collectively put in about 150 years of volunteer work. Many members were in their 70s when they started and the current crew have 83 years’ service between them. The enterprise will be wound up with a Bargain Basement Clearance Sale thisSaturday, 29th March at the Theatre Royal from at 10.15am till 3pm. Items are just 2 each!
And if no other premises are available then recognition and praise are due to TRAC and the Fancy Dress Hire Unit for their sterling work, which has contributed so positively to the welfare of the theatre itself.