SELL OUT performances, standing ovations and toe-tapping tunes marked the reopening of a Hampshire theatre.

Lengthy repairs to structural damage followed by the pandemic meant Thornden Hall Arts Centre in Chandler’s Ford was unable to stage large scale productions since 2018.

Audiences were welcomed back with a production of the hit musical Grease.

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With a cast and crew of nearly 150 Thornden School students, the show sold out every performance on its four-night run, treating audiences to a classic soundtrack, stunning performances from the teenage cast and innovative set design.

Leather jackets were donned and hair pulled high into ponytails to ensure an ‘electrifyin’ experience was had by all.

“The curtain call made me feel a huge wave of emotion each night,” said Hellen Smith, Head of Performing Arts and Production Director.

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“I know how much this opportunity means to our students who have missed out on so much by the Hall closure and the pandemic. It’s such a joy to see our students loving working together on a production after missing out during recent years. I’m thankful to work with such a fantastic team and dedicated students who have worked crazy hours to make this production a success”.

Whilst the arts centre has been out of action students have still had the chance to perform with teachers staging productions in the school sports hall and using smaller theatre spaces to ensure students didn’t miss out.

The repairs also meant the auditorium underwent a refurbishment with a new steel beam cladded with wood, state of the art sound system and lighting rig, new flooring and a fresh coat of paint throughout. Seating has also been upgraded to ensure a comfortable audience experience.

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Pictures by Clive Weeks of