Food critic Audrey Simpson, who has been a regular at the Theatre for 30 years, said: "I loved it in the old days when managers Roger Neil and others always wore a black tie. They would stand at the bottom of the stairs and greet everyone who went by - it was very grand, like a posh hotel.

"Even the staff dressed in black ties and Anne Travers, the manager before Roger, wore a long evening gown.

"They are a good team now but there is a nostalgia to remembering it then.

"I would never miss a week - it was and still is a meeting place where you can catch up with people you haven't seen for a while."

Holly Payton, Brighton Festival Fringe operations manager, said: "My first festival in Brighton was in 2002. I managed a gig with Lambchop, a band from Nashville, Tennessee, consisting of about 25 artists.

"Feeding and watering them all, trying to make the dressing rooms nice and showing them around the warren which is backstage at the Theatre Royal. They were such a lovely band to work with."

Kevin Nixon, director of Brighton Institute of Modern Music BIMM, said: "What stands out about the Theatre Royal for me is that it has got a future as well as a history.

"The first time I ever went it was with Hayley Mills because I was managing her son Crispian's band at the time.

"She took me backstage and told me all about the history because her father John had also performed there. It was the perfect way to be introduced to an historic place like that.

"These days I am so impressed at how Julien makes a real effort to work with youngsters. He opens up the theatre for two weeks for BIMM shows at the end of the year and puts on shows like Rik Mayall in The New Statesmen that young people can relate to.

"As well as looking back at the theatre's history, its future is absolutely key and I think the Theatre Royal keeps a good balance of the two."

Roger Bamber, photographer, said: "It is a really special theatre that feels like a theatre should and has got the most wonderful stage door I have ever come across."