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Curtain up for new theatre

The red carpet will be rolled out at Harry Crosbie's new theatre for the official opening night of the southside venue tonight.

Hundreds of well-known culture vultures have been invited to attend the Grand Canal Theatre's inaugural performance.

All the stops have been pulled out to ensure a night to remember, with a production of Swan Lake by the Russian State Ballet being the first event to take place at the new venue.

Guest of honour will be President Mary MacAleese with many familiar faces, including Gay Byrne, expected to join her for the opening night.

Beforehand, art gallery owner Noelle Campbell Sharpe has told the Diary how she will be hosting a private party for 100 of the attendees at her Urban Retreat venue.

Among those on the list to attend is charity queen Norma Smurfit, Apprentice stars Jackie Lavin and Bill Cullen, alongside Kate Middleton's artist pal Gemma Billington.

Other attendees include Frank and Ursula Keane, John McKeon alongside Eileen Murphy and Frank Buckley, with guests being treated to complimentary canapes and champagne.

But most members of the Irish media will have to hazard a guess about the inaugural performance -- given that just four passes are being allocated to the press, with the rest only invited to cover the red carpet arrivals.