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First new West End theatre in 50 years to open

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A “state-of-the-art” theatre will be the first to open in London’s West End in 50 years.

Soho Place will offer unrestricted views in its 600-seat curved auditorium featuring “perfect acoustics” when it opens this autumn.

The “glamorous” theatre, which sits in the heart of a £300 million regeneration project, has been more than a decade in the making, theatre owner Nica Burns told the PA news agency.

Nica Burns
Nica Burns (Geraint Lewis/PA)

“For me, it’s been a 12-year journey and I woke up this morning, and I suddenly felt really overwhelmed because it’s like having a 12-year pregnancy, and it’s born today. It is very emotional,” she said.

The theatre sits directly above Crossrail’s new Elizabeth line at Tottenham Court Road station.

Ms. Burns said: “It’s been a very difficult, challenging building to build because we are directly over the Elizabeth line platform, and we also have the central and northern lines running under us.

“To build a modern theatre which requires silence in the auditorium, it was a real challenging build…but the acoustics in the auditorium are absolutely perfect.

“You can stand at the stage and talk quite quietly, and you can hear it in the entire auditorium.

“There are no vibrations throughout the building, and can’t hear the trains.”

(Tim Soar/PA)

Ms. Burns said a “great deal of money” was spent on putting the auditorium in a concrete box to ensure “perfect acoustics.”

Speaking about the theatre’s other features, she added: “You’re never more than six seats in terms of rows away from the stage, so in terms of audience actors relationship, it’s just brilliant.

“Every seat has a perfect sight line.

“So if you bought the cheapest seat in the house, you have got a perfect view to the stage.

“There’s no pillars, there’s nothing to obstruct your view and you can see the whole stage and also hear everything beautifully.

“In a modern theatre, you need to do that.

“With the Victorian theatres, you can’t change things so you’ve got to fix all those things on a new set.”

The outside of the building features star constellations and at night “the whole building lights up like a magic box,” Ms. Burns explained.

Interior of Soho Place (Tim Soar/PA)

“On the inside, everywhere that the audience walks is indigo blue to match the twilight sky and with special star lights set out in the constellation – so you’re always walking under the stars.

“It is a theatre, so we’ve brought in that feeling of being different and special.”

The 67-year-old explained her inspiration for the theatre’s interior design came after a trip to the ancient theatre of Epidaurus in Greece as a young actress.

“I was standing centre stage on this incredible theatre and the last rays of the golden sun came through the trees and I looked up and the stars were starting to twinkle in an indigo sky.

“That theatre is still considered today to be one of the greatest theatres in the world and I stood there thinking ‘this is where theatre started outside under the stars.’

“Ancient Greek classical theatre is still part of the heritage and inspiration for all the British playwrights which have made up the history of our theatre today, it’s our heritage.

“So when I was coming to the interior design of this theatre, I’ve turned it into those colors.

“All the interior decoration is a dark midnight blue, walk under the stars and the trim is a gold to mimic the sun coming in.

“The aim in theatre is to give people a special evening and make the whole evening a bit magical so the building I think is quite magical to look at and it feels very special to be in, hopefully we’re going to do our best to give you a fantastic experience when you’re sitting down in the auditorium.”

The theatre, which also features a creatives floor with a rehearsal room, actors green room, bar and terrace, will announce its first production soon.

Author: jonathan

Jonathan is a consummate Anglophile who launched Anglotopia.net in 2007 to channel his passion for Britain. Londontopia is its sister publication dedicated to everything London.

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