Bristol

Stephanie Cole, Samantha Bond and Greta Scacchi back Bristol Old Vic appeal

Stephanie Cole, Samantha Bond and Greta Scacchi
Image caption Stephanie Cole, Samantha Bond and Greta Scacchi are backing a £12.5m appeal to finish the refurbishment of Bristol's Old Vic Theatre

A £12.5m appeal to finish refurbishing a theatre in Bristol is being supported by three famous former students.

Actors Stephanie Cole, Samantha Bond and Greta Scacchi all trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and are now backing its funding appeal.

The venue marks its 250th anniversary this year and wants to raise funds for the next phase of its redevelopment.

Ms Bond, who played Lady Rosamund in Downton Abbey, said: "We need to raise a bit more money and that's it sorted."

The Old Vic opened in 1766 and claims to be the UK's oldest working theatre.

It was closed for an 18-month refurbishment between 2010 and 2012 and is currently raising £12.5m to transform its front of house spaces.

Ms Bond, a former theatre student, said it was "the most beautiful theatre to play".

"It's a bit like playing to a very warm armchair - the auditorium envelops the audience and makes it an absolute joy for the actor," she said.

Image caption The next phase of the Old Vic's redevelopment work is due to start this summer

Stephanie Cole, who starred in Tenko and Coronation Street, also began her career at the Old Vic.

"The first time I stood on the stage and was paid for it was here - when I was 17," she said.

"And when I finished at the Vic School I joined the company for a year - it is the most wonderful theatre. What can I say it's a jewel - it's magic."

Greta Scacchi, best known for her lead role in the film White Mischief, also described the theatre as a "place of magic".

"It's fortunate Bristol not only has this theatre - this historic jewel of an auditorium - but that it's in a city of this size where it's a focal point and people can feel very proud of it," she said.

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