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Curtains up for a night when the stars were in the audience

The creme de la creme of Irish stars were out in force for the glitzy performance of Swan Lake on the official opening night of the new Grand Canal Theatre.

Guest of honour President Mary McAleese was the last to walk the red carpet, braving the cold in a long brown fur coat.

But it seems she couldn't wait to get inside the warm, 2,111-capacity theatre as she posed for pictures for just seconds before sweeping past with her husband Martin.

There were plenty of other familiar faces among the glitterati including film star Brendan Gleeson, Bond girl Alison Doody, U2 manager Paul McGuinness, fashion designer John Rocha, and RTE broadcasters Gay Byrne and Gerry Ryan.

2FM presenter Ryan, who is an honorary director of the theatre along with McGuinness and Gay Byrne, said: "For everybody that's involved this is just a fantastic success story. It's a beautiful theatre; architecturally it's a piece of art work itself."

Gerry played down reports he is a shoo-in for his own Saturday night talk show later this year. "I don't know but whoever gets it, it will be a big challenge. Do I want it? I've got plenty to do already."

Gorgeous actress Alison Doody was excited to be present as she once attended a performance in the Bolshoi theatre in Moscow. "It's stunning. I'm very impressed and very proud," she gushed.

Meanwhile funnyman Mario Rosenstock admitted his nerves are kicking in ahead of his Gift Grub performances in the theatre in May.

"I'm really looking forward to it although scared as well. I mean I'm tiny when I stand on the stage and it's not like I'm dressed in a tutu and there are 50 of me. I think it's going to be an amazing experience."

Herald columnist Colette Fitzpatrick and No Frontiers presenter Kathryn Thomas also stepped out in their finest Louboutins for the performance by the Russian State Ballet. Colette said: "It's great to see, particularly in recessionary times, investments in the arts. There is a great atmosphere."