The Orchard West Theatre will officially open this weekend as the first performance hits the stage tomorrow evening.

On Saturday, December 9, Beauty and the Beast will hit the Dartford stage as the theatre opens to the public from 11am.

From 12pm, people are able to start collecting tickets and the first showing of the pantomime will take place in the evening.

Beauty and the Beast will be onstage at the brand new, Orchard West Theatre until December 31.

Caroline Hicks, director of growth and community at Dartford Council, “cannot wait” for the official opening of the temporary theatre.

News Shopper: Orchard West Theatre Dartford opens Orchard West Theatre Dartford opens (Image: Poppy Huggett)

She said that over the last three months, getting a temporary theatre up and running has “taken over my world”.

The Orchard Theatre in Dartford was forced to close after a survey found concerns with the theatre’s RAAC panels.

Since then, the council has “gone into overdrive” to find a “creative way of keeping the show going here in Dartford”.

Caroline said: “It was an art of the possible and in a conversation with the leader of the council we said we need to see if there is an alternative way of doing it, so we did and here we are.

“I’m really pleased we have so much support, it tells us the Orchard is as important as we think it is for our community.

“We frankly could have closed and said we’ll open again at some point, but it really is at the heart of the town.

“It really is oner of our main community venues and it really is loved. and

“An awful lot of people are involved here and it’s also the heart of our economy.

“All of the town centre businesses feed off of the theatre being there in one way or another.”

Despite being a temporary space, Caroline is certain that no one would think of the space as anything but a theatre when they step inside.

She added: “I can’t wait to see the reaction from people tomorrow.

“Some people might think it’s just going to be a big tent but actually when you walk in the auditorium you wouldn’t know you’re anywhere other than a theatre.

“I hadn’t actually seen it until yesterday – I walked in and burst into tears.

“I hope people love it, it’s been a real team effort to get it done.”