Art

1st new theater in London’s West End in 50 years to open in autumn

1st new theater in London’s West End in 50 years to open in autumn

LONDON (DPA): London’s West End, famous for its world-class theater productions, will embrace its first “state-of-the-art” theater in 50 years this autumn. Soho Place will welcome the audience in its 600-seat curved auditorium offering unrestricted views and “perfect acoustics.”

The “glamorous” theater, which sits in the heart of a 300 million pound ($358 million) regeneration project, has been more than a decade in the making, theater owner Nica Burns told the PA news agency.

“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 theater sits directly above Crossrail’s new Elizabeth line at Tottenham Court Road station, minutes from the world-famous theaters of Soho’s Shaftesbury Avenue.

Undated handout photo issued by Geraint Lewis of the balcony inside the auditorium of the new West End theater in Soho, London, U.K. (dpa Photo)
Undated handout photo issued by Geraint Lewis of the balcony inside the auditorium of the new West End theater in Soho, London, U.K. (dpa Photo)

“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,” Burns said.

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

“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,” she explained.

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

Speaking about the theater’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.

“With the Victorian theaters, 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,” Burns explained.

“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 theater, so we’ve brought in that feeling of being different and special,” she added.

Nica Burns inside the auditorium of the new West End theater in Soho, London, U.K., July 20, 2022. (dpa Photo)
Nica Burns inside the auditorium of the new West End theater in Soho, London, U.K., July 20, 2022. (dpa Photo)

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

“I was standing center stage on this incredible theater 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 theater is still considered today to be one of the greatest theaters in the world and I stood there thinking ‘this is where theater started outside under the stars.’

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

“So when I was coming to the interior design of this theater, 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 theater 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 theater, which also features a creatives floor with a rehearsal room, actors’ green room, bar and terrace, will announce its first production soon.

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