2018 - a look back at our best bits

1. Rebrand of the organisation

On 28 February, we changed our organisational name from Festival City Theatres Trust to Capital Theatres. The change brought a new brand identity for Scotland’s largest independent theatre charity as well as new logo identities for our three theatre venues.

2. Bill Murray – and Lambie - visit the Festival Theatre

The Festival Theatre has seen numerous stars grace its stage, but this year it welcomed a very special actor, comedian and writer: Bill Murray. The celebrated Hollywood actor was joined by Jan Vogler on stage for an intimate performance showcasing the core American values in literature and music.

We marked the occasion by dedicating a seat to him, Murray in turn dedicating the seat to ‘Lambie’, his very special lamb scarf.

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3. War Horse returns to the Festival Theatre stage

The National Theatre’s multi award-winning production of War Horse returned to Edinburgh this year after a sell-out run back in 2014. To celebrate we organised a very special meeting between Joey, the life-size equine puppet, and real horses Lewis and Kilmarnock from Police Scotland’s Mounted Unit. Our favourite part? When actor Thomas Dennis became Lewis and Kilmarnock’s new favourite human after he offered them some very well-deserved polo mints.

Watch the magic happen and read more about this very special meeting in our Blog Story


4. Relaxed performance of King’s panto Cinderella

At the beginning of the year, we saw a full house for the relaxed performance of the King’s panto, Cinderella. It’s an event we look forward to every year, and therefore a must in this year’s highlights. We love seeing faces light-up when the show starts, the boos and hisses and the smiles all around. We are already looking forward to next year’s relaxed performance – oh yes we are!

Relaxed performances cater specifically for people who would benefit from adjustments made to our shows, such as customers with Autism Spectrum Disorder, sensory and communication disorders, or a learning disability.  We have lots of trained staff on hand to help with any access needs; anyone can feel free to make noise and move around the auditorium; we keep the lights on, but dimmed to reduce anxiety; and we provide break out spaces with a live stream of the show so that if people feel the need to leave the auditorium they won’t miss the action.

We endeavour to programme a number of relaxed performances throughout the year. You can use our ‘Relaxed Performances’ filter in the What’s On section of our website 

5. Announcement of the King’s Theatre architects and first designs

Last month, we announced the appointment of Bennetts Associates as the architect firm to lead on the King’s Theatre redevelopment and shared the initial designs for the building’s transformation. We also announced the much-needed upgrades we plan on implementing to the King’s Theatre to ensure this Edinburgh institution Is safeguarded for generations to come.

6. Rebus on Stage

One of modern crime fiction’s most famous detectives, Rebus made his Scottish stage debut at the King’s on Monday 8 October with his creator, author Ian Rankin and playwright Rona Munro who adapted Ian’s story, Long Shadows, watching in the audience.

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Ian Rankin and Charles Lawson

7. Bringing back Ballroom

Strictly has worked wonders for bringing back ballroom dancing and we’ve been flying the flag for contemporary ballroom with the exceptionally popular Shall We Dance? events in the Studio. Starting with a dance class to learn the basics from the professionals, it’s a chance to cha cha cha the night away in a relaxed and fun environment with live music from resident band, Radio Pachuco. Join us for our next Shall We Dance? 

8. Family fun from around the world

In November 2018 in association with Scottish Faith Action for Refugees, we hosted a group of refugee families from around the world for a series of mini-workshops at the Festival Theatre. During the musical workshop, we asked children to write a song about Edinburgh and their creativity didn’t disappoint.

With a very fitting first line “Freezing cold weather”, the first verse goes: “Edinburgh has green areas / Edinburgh’s great for all of us / People have fun in the park, dogs run, jump, before they bark – woof! woof!”

9. Calendar Girls the Musical + Insight

To coincide with Gary Barlow and Tim Firth’s Calendar Girls the Musical coming to Edinburgh, we were lucky enough to present a very special and inspiring event with Angela Baker and Tricia Stewart, two of the original calendar girls, in aid of blood cancer charity Bloodwise.

Angela and Tricia shared their inspirational story, some cheeky Gary Barlow anecdotes, how much money they raised for charity and how the calendar came about.

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Angela Baker and Tricia Stewart, 'original Calendar Girls'

10. King’s documentary on BBC Radio Scotland

On Christmas Day, broadcaster and panto baddie Grant Stott presented a very special programme about the history of the King’s Theatre, featuring interviews with staff, audience members, the various amateur companies who perform annually at the King’s and a whole host of stars who have performed at the theatre over the years, with a very special conversation with Stanley Baxter.

If you missed it, you can still listen to the hour-long documentary.

11. Life Changes Trust support our Dementia Friendly projects

In February we were awarded £61,000 of additional funding from Life Changes Trust to support our Dementia Friendly programme. This funding follows an initial £320,000 awarded in 2015 and helps support our now established programme of events and activities for people living with dementia and their families.

12. Capital Theatres Bars App launch

This year we launched the Capital Theatres Bars App, a mobile app that allows our audiences to pre-order and pre-pay for pre-show and interval drinks, avoiding the theatre queues.

The streamlined service has been a huge hit among our audiences and we continue to see a rise in the number of users every month.

Find out more about how it works

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Festival Theatre Cafe sign inside the Festival Theatre


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