The Jószef Katona Theatre in Kecskemét, Hungary is named after the writer of the first Hungarian national drama. It was built in 1895-1896, renovated and modernized in 1960-1962 and again in 1986-1987. Its last restorations were done sometimes after 2000.
On our last visit to Kecskemét in 2010, our host had managed to get permission for a private tour of the Jószef Katona Theatre. It was mid-afternoon and a few hours before the evening performance of ‘Les Miserables’. Let in by the security personnel, we entered the building through a back entrance used by the actors and staff. It felt strange and eerie to be the only ones on the premises. A very narrow meter wide hall led to the backstage. On each side the many doors opened to dressing rooms. I would have loved to peak in but didn’t dare open any of them. The cramped quarters and almost dungeon feeling made me realize the antiquity of this building.
As we entered the theatre all changed from dim surroundings to an opulent area. The gold from the molding glinted against a burgundy and white background. Rows upon rows of seats were draped in white sheets to protect them from the dust. With two levels of seats I noticed way at the top a sectioned off area for the standing room crowd. And above all was this magnificent immense chandelier glinting above the 850 seats. The theatre was magnificent.
We then entered a spacious and bright lobby. Wide staircases led to the upper level where we found many comfortable cozy seating areas.
The place looked royal and majestic and well deserving of the accolades given to it when the Europe theatrical convention voted it as the most beautiful jewel box in the theatre world