THE first image of what Chester’s Grosvenor Park will look like when this summer’s open air theatre project gets under way has been unveiled.

The project was officially launched on Monday by Cheshire West and Chester Council leader Mike Jones.

He promised the 350-seat Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre would be a “magical, unforgettable experience for residents and visitors alike”.

The council - backing the project to the tune of £100,000 – believes it will be the first stage towards the authority’s goal of seeing Chester created City of Culture in 2017.

“We also see this as a significant step towards delivering our ambition to create a permanent theatre for Chester,” said the leader.

Grosvenor Park will stage its first season from July 15–August 8 for performances of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and a new play, based on the legend of Hercules, for families.

And it is hoped that the open air arena will host up to 10,000 theatregoers.

The design of the summer theatre is described as ‘simple but unique’.ŠThe horseshoe shaped theatre will have terrace seats surrounding the stage, and an area in front for audiences to enjoy picnics.

Actors and musicians will mingle and perform among the audience creating an enclosed, bustling space. It is hoped the intimate setting will create a close connection between the actors and the audience with nobody being far from the action.

Chester Performs director Andrew Bentley said: “These images reveal the unusual setting of our open air structure. The season of open air theatre is particularly unique - both the stage and entire auditorium are uncovered.

“Being outdoors in the glorious setting of Grosvenor Park will be an integral part of the experience, which we hope audiences will embrace.”

Cllr Richard Short, executive member, said that Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre represented the authority’s investment in Chester’s cultural life… and its bid to improve it.

Work on the feasibility study for the proposed state of the art theatre was well under way and by the end of June members would have a much better of the proposed design and costs involved.

Martin Bocking of Chester based architects Lovelock Mitchell, who designed the theatre, said: “We wanted to ensure the design was ‘part of the park’, inspired by the backdrop of the ruins of St John’s church and the beauty of Grosvenor Park, we have created a sympathetic, natural setting.”

The theatre has two types of seats – picnic space and raised terraces. Picnic spaces are on the grass and audiences can bring their own deck chairs or picnic blankets, and picnic before and during the show.

Terraces are raised wooden bench style seats, with cushions available to hire from the theatre.

Tickets for Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre are on sale now, terrace seats from £10, picnic spaces £18. Book now online at , by calling 0843 208 0500 or visit Chester Tourist Information Centre.