Staging a programme of comedy shows, family entertainment, dance troupes, drama and variety bills, the Orchard Theatre is Dartford's leading live entertainment spot. With a main auditorium that is capable of holding 956 seated audience members, it is a modern theatre. The stalls incline towards the rear before reaching the theatre's circle seating. There is also an upper circle and side seating, which looks directly down upon the stage. Since it was first opened in 1983, the theatre has been among the most loved in Kent, having attracted some top performers over the years.
The theatre has its own restaurant, which provides an elegant dining experience prior to the curtain going up. There is a range of hospitality packages for groups and corporate entertainment. In addition to the main restaurant, for which it is advisable to book, the Orchard Theatre has a number of bars, each of which serves bar snacks as well as drinks. Recently the theatre's management has introduced 'Tea and Tour' packages in the afternoon, which allow visitors to explore the entire theatre, including the backstage area, followed by tea and cake.
The Orchard Theatre has six places in the stalls allocated for wheelchair users. There is a car park on the site with several disabled spaces and the toilets in the theatre's lower bar are designed with disability access in mind.
Orchard Theatre ticketed events
The Orchard Theatre has a full programme of entertainment and many events sell out in advance, so purchasing tickets prior to the performance is advisable. Popular events include the theatre's many stand-up comedy shows. The stage has been taken to by many of the UK's leading comedians, including Jon Richardson, Sean Lock and Ross Noble, to name but three. Family-friendly shows, such as Babe, The Cinderella Ball and The Addams Family have all been put on at the Orchard Theatre, usually to coincide with the school holidays.
Lovers of music of all genres are also well catered for during the course of a typical year. The popular musical Evita has been produced there, as well as gigs from visiting touring acts, such as Lulu, Elaine Paige and Soul II Soul. There are performances from tribute acts from time to time, in addition to occasional classical performances. As well as plays that are staged by professional companies, the theatre hosts ticketed amateur dramatic events and a number of dance shows, which range from tap to ballet. Finally, it is worth mentioning that the Orchard Theatre has a well-deserved reputation for hosting high-quality pantomimes each Christmas. These include versions of Dick Whittington, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Aladdin.