Mark Baldwin, artistic director, of Rambert Dance Company said: "In modern-day theatre and film, people forget the centrality of the actor standing on the stage but this theatre brings it back to the skill of the actor, the human being, and the contact the actor has with the audience.

"We travel around the country to many different theatres and there are not that many which have that quality.

"A theatre is much more than the dimensions of a building, it is the people that work in the theatre. People at the Theatre Royal still care about real theatre and that makes you feel like you have come home when you come here. The audience here is pretty frightening, very discerning and the seats get slammed, but it is a very good audience in a fantastic town."

Paula Murray, arts and project manager at Brighton and Hove City Council, said: "It is one of the most important cultural centres of the city as well as one of the oldest businesses here.

"Since Ambassador took over about four years ago there have been so many improvements - they have really invested in the infrastructure and the building itself.

"It has the whole mix - commercially run theatre like the panto and really good drama like The Caretaker, and great front of house staff who really looked after my daughter once when she was sick.

"It is one of the most important venues in the city and Julien always really involves himself and the theatre in the cultural life of Brighton."

Councillor Carole Theobald, mayor of Brighton and Hove, said: "I Love Latin dancing and I remember being at a production last year when they asked members of the audience to go on stage to do a dance.

"My friends, knowing I like Latin dance, pushed me up there with all the cast and I had a good old dance. It was wonderful being up there on stage.

"I also share my birthday with the theatre, which is lovely."

Brighton and Hove City Councillor Ann Norman said: "My memories are mainly about the stage door where as a small child I was lucky enough to speak to Vivien Leigh and Laurence Oliver, both absolutely charming and willing to spend time talking to those standing outside.

"Also meeting Jill Ireland and her husband David McCallum as well as Kay Kendall who all performed at the Theatre Royal. More recently, my husband Ken and I met Charlton Heston and his wife after a performance, again so friendly with fans and not wanting to rush off."