Colston Hall in Bristol is shutting down for a major revamp, which means fans of the city's annual Slapstick Festival will get a double helping of silent and classic screen merriment next year, as organisers get around the issue by splitting the festival in two.
Plans are already being made for the usual full January weekend of celebrity-led Slapstick events, with the 2019 programme running from January 18th to 20th at venues including Watershed and the newly-refurbished Bristol Old Vic. But the festival's gala needs a bigger stage and seating area than is available in the city centre then, prompting it to become a stand-alone event in February.
Marcus Brigstocke has been confirmed to host the ever-popular gala, which will now take place at the Bristol Hippodrome on 10th February 2019.
Festival Director Chris Daniels explains: "The gala's mix of silent comedy classics, a full orchestra, surprise guests and a star comedian as host means it is always our best attended event, regularly attracting an audience of well over 1,500 to our usual Colston Hall venue from all parts of Bristol and far beyond.
"Yet with Colston Hall temporarily out of action, there simply isn't a suitably-sized alternative venue free during January's festival weekend. The good news, though, is that the Hippodrome can fit us in on February 10, with the result that early 2019 will find Slapstick bringing smiles to Bristol on two separate occasions."
The 2019 gala centrepiece will be a complete screening of the Charlie Chaplin masterpiece Modern Times (1936), showing on a super-sized HD screen and accompanied live by the 40-piece Bristol Ensemble playing Chaplin's own score for the film and conducted by Guenter A Buchwald.
In addition, there will be pre-show entertainment by students of the Circomedia circus-theatre school; screenings, with music, of Bacon Grabbers (1929), starring Laurel & Hardy, and Buster Keaton's The Scarecrow (1924) and comedy magic from John Archer.
Gala tickets are now on sale, priced from £21.50 - £42.50. They can booked at the Hippodrome's Box Office, calling 0844 871 7615 or by visiting slapstick.org.uk (where details of Gala VIP packages can also be found).
The programme for January's Slapstick 2019 programme is due to be published in early October.