The centre of attention in Radlett

Marie Hardingham looks at why The Radlett Centre takes centre stage in community life

Marie Hardingham looks at why The Radlett Centre takes centre stage in community lifeSITUATED on either side of the ancient Roman Road of Watling Street and nestled in the nub of the beautiful Hertfordshire countryside lays the small affluent town of Radlett. During World War II, a number of German bombs fell from the skies hitting this little hamlet and causing some homes to be totally destroyed - but since then life has been peaceful and the town has become a tranquil and popular place to live.With the train station situated on the Thameslink line and the M1 and M25 motorways close by it has become a prime location and ideal retreat for commuters to put down roots and escape the hustle and bustle of everyday city life. Throw in a good mix of shops, pubs and restaurants to choose from and Radlett makes for the perfect gateway to suburban living.For even more entertainment the much desired and relatively new focal point at the heart of the town is the illustrious Radlett Centre. The theatre was built in 1996 and, although comparatively small, it is extremely energetic and plays a noticeably significant part in the lives of residents. It has been described as a bona-fide community meeting point - a place where everyone can get together for a great night out.Attracting not only residents but also pulling in audiences from surrounding towns and villages, this state-of-the-art auditorium, concert hall and cinema offers an array of diverse events throughout the year. Concerts, shows, art exhibitions and other performances are in abundance - there really is something for everyone to enjoy. Centre manager Greg Dexter is proud of what The Radlett Centre can offer. He says, 'We try to cater for everyone's tastes by staging a mixed bill of acts including cultural, drama, comedy and classical performances. Our main objective however is to make sure the people who visit us enjoy themselves and have a really good time.'Described by Greg as a real community affair, the centre boasts strong connections with local schools and businesses. Schools attend regularly to see educational plays and pantomimes while businesses make use of the first-rate meeting and conference facilities on offer. The obvious kinship clearly shared among the folk of Radlett urged them in 2001 to join forces and donate a staggering �20,000 to the centre so a new sound system could be installed, allowing far greater clarity of noise and superior amplification throughout the auditorium. Three years later in 2004 some �350,000 was spent on a new foyer, transforming the small space into the magnificent area it is today.'The centre boasts a list of famous names, among them the triumphant Vienna Festival Ballet and the European Ballet Company'Amateur dramatic societies regularly make use of the theatre, putting on performances and entertaining patrons. One local and very active 'am-dram' group, the Radlett Light Opera Society perform in the modern centre twice a year wowing audiences with good old-fashioned musical shows.Membership secretary for the society, Janet Scott says, 'It's a well-appointed venue in a good location and it's on the professional circuit. There's a good lighting system in place, a large dock area for scenery and with a raked seating system installed there's not a back-seat view in the house.'The centre boasts a list of famous names, among them the triumphant Vienna Festival Ballet and the European Ballet Company which attract and delight theatre goers all over the world. Many bands also take to the stage; the infamous Abba tribute band, Voulez Vouz, have performed on a number of occasions along with another favourite, T Rextasy.As well as shows, plays and exhibitions on the events listing the centre offers a programme of community workshops. Two drama clubs are held each Saturday - one for eight to ten-year-olds, the other for 11-plus years. Unique opportunities also exist to work and perform on stage with a creative team of theatre and musical directors at one of the many musical workshops held there. With the capacity to accommodate up to 300 people the centre is available for private hire and has become a very popular location for weddings and bar mitzvahs or somewhere to meet up with friends over a coffee in the art caf�.Whatever your theatre tastes - be it serious drama or laugh-out-loud comedy - The Radlett Centre is making sure it is the place to see and be seen.