The Montgomery stars in national Heritage Open Days weekend

THERE will be a rare chance for audience members to go behind the curtain and explore a fascinating backstage story as Sheffield’s The Montgomery takes part in the national Heritage Open Days event.

The popular Surrey Street theatre and arts centre has been part of the fabric of city life since it first opened its doors more than 130 years ago, surviving both the Blitz and a devastating 1971 fire to become the home of many of Sheffield’s leading community theatre companies.

And on September 14 and 15 there will be a rare opportunity for visitors to learn the full story with a full two days of free events as part of Heritage Open Days.

On both Friday and Saturday from 10am to 1pm The Montgomery’s Gallery space will host a display of archive material, exploring the building’s fascinating history.

At 10.45am on Friday Sheffield Newspapers will be presenting articles from the Sheffield Star’s archives, followed by a short performance of The Montgomery’s story by young pupils from Arbourthorne Primary School.

At 12.15pm, The Star’s Julia Armstrong will talk about the radical movement of 18th Century Sheffield, including the history of the city’s radical press publications of the time – which supported many social reforms including the abolition of slavery – and the stories of how their writers and editors, including such leading city figures as Joseph Gales and James Montgomery, came to be persecuted and imprisoned.

Places are limited for this, so do book in advance through The Montgomery box office.

Saturday will see theatre tours running at 10.30am and 11.30am, exploring The Montgomery’s history and how it went from a training school for the Sunday School Union to a theatre and arts centre serving the community.

Visitors will also have the chance to experience an open rehearsal from Carney Academy students and enjoy extracts from hit Barry Manilow musical Copacabana, performed by Splinters Theatre Group.

At 12.15pm Sheffield Music Hub will then take to The Montgomery stage for an open rehearsal – an ideal opportunity to hear young musicians from across the city making music!

Throughout both days there will also be an exhibition of works by Expressionist artist Bryan John, while  refreshments will be served by The Montgomery’s popular Ladies in Lavender.

“This is a great opportunity to explore 132 years of Sheffield history,” said The Montgomery’s Marketing and Programming Manager Rachel Jack.

“The Montgomery has been known and loved by many generations of Sheffield theatregoers but its not very often we can offer such a great opportunity to look at the life of the theatre beyond the footlights.

“All events are free, so turn up and enjoy a fascinating day of theatre past and present.”