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Prince Edward, right, speaks to Griff Rhys Jones, a theater alumnus, last month during a gala performance to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the founding of the school.

Prince Edward, right, speaks to Griff Rhys Jones, a theater alumnus, last month during a gala performance to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the founding of the school. (Photos courtesy of ADC Theatre)

CAMBRIDGE — If you fancy a show, but don’t feel like trekking to London’s West End, check out the ADC Theatre, the University of Cambridge’s official playhouse.

It’s a thriving venue, home to both university productions and visiting companies. The ADC offers year-round entertainment in the heart of Cambridge. Its well-stocked bar opens before, during and after its two nightly performances, at 7:30 and 11, and is open to the public. Matinees are also available, depending on the show.

Tickets range from 4 to 10 pounds, and with a variety of acts passing through the historic 218-seat venue, there’s no excuse not to check it out, whether you’re a theater buff or someone new to the scene.

Since 1855, the ADC has been home to the university’s acting troupe, the likes of which include Sir Ian McKellen and Rachel Weiss. Its "Footlights" series — comedic and often satirical shows — presented throughout the year, have been performed by such British legends as John Cleese. (The pioneer of Monty Python earned a law degree from Cambridge in 1963 while also performing on stage at the ADC.)

Markedly cheaper than London theaters and even other city venues throughout the country, the ADC is a deal, considering the talent it has housed over the years.

"The dramatic difference in ticket price doesn’t compromise the quality of the shows," said Stuart Cuthbertson, marketing manager.

It’s Britain’s oldest university playhouse. Over the years, the stage has been fashioned from the back of a 19th-century carriage inn into a modern theater, undergoing an extensive renovation in the summer of 2008.

"We completely modernized the theater in every single respect," Cuthbertson said.

Shows and events span everything from Ballet Central, a U.K. dance troupe, to Wordfest, an upcoming literary festival including readings, performances and discussions.

"We aim to fit shows that appeal to any interest someone might have," he said.

Even if you don’t particularly care for it in the end, a trip to the theater fuels conversation with those whom you experience it. With that in mind, the ADC is great place to take a date, or even a family, for an evening of culture.

Getting there

Address: Cambridge city center, CB5 8AS (park at the Park Street garage for easy access. A few hours will cost a few pounds.)

Times: Check www.adctheatre.com for performance schedules and times.

Ticket prices: 4 – 10 pounds

Bar: The theater’s newly renovated bar is open to the public on performance night, from 7 p.m. to midnight.

Box office: 01223 300085 (3-7 p.m.)

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