The Theatre Royal was full to the rafters for the first night when it showed off its quality refurbishment, its dark caressing walls, its newness, its fine comfortable seating, its glorious sense of welcome, in that wonderful fanciful way that a theatre, an intimate performance space, embraces its best asset, the people, the audience. This audience was full of admiration for a restored treasure and was it worth waiting for? Oh yes it was.

As the lights dimmed, you could feel the shiver of anticipation, as if you had never been away, as the five performers of Mad About The Musicals, added that touch of theatre magic to the stunning decor. As Alan Bowles said – isn’t it amazing, well done Waterford, as he sashayed into D’Loverly and Daniel Whitley joined him for Well Did You Ever (What a swell part this is).

They were joined in song by Victoria Betterton, Charlotte Gibson and the exciting Kerry O’Dowd. All five lulled the audience with a memorable Lullaby Of Broadway. Victoria wowed the crowd with Nothing from A Chorus Line before 18 super-talented kids from splendid Richie Hayes Stage School, joined the cast for an Oliver! Medley.

Am Oklahoma pleased before Kerry O’Dowd delighted with The Greatest Star from Funny Girl. Sunset Boulevard faded into a gem from Spamalot as the kids returned for a wonderful Joseph medley.

After the interval, a Blues Brothers routine went on a bit too long but the three girls got down and raunchy from Chicago. Alan Bowles was plaintive with I Am What I Am from La Cage Aux Folles before the others impressed with Gotta Get A Gimmick from Gypsy.

A Phanthom sequence was less than operatic but Starlight Express with David Whitley was imaginative and tender.

An expected and enjoyed Les Miserables sent the audience home happy.

A woman asked me, what would Larry Fanning say about the place and I think it’s not what he would say but what he did for so many years to preserve the Town Hall and his memory, his watchful presence will be there for a long long time in the hearts and memories of Royal patrons.