British property company Soho Estates announce the launch of a brand new theatre for London, which will be located in the heart of Soho, opening in late 2019.
The company is steeped in Soho’s history, and committed to retaining its unique character and keeping its creative spark at its heart.
Designed by architects Soda Studio and theatre design consultants Charcoalblue, The Boulevard Theatre will be situated on the site of the original Boulevard, in Walker’s Court.
The original Boulevard Theatre began as a sister venue to the Raymond Revuebar, providing an additional bar and restaurant. The Boulevard Theatre presented various productions, including erotic, comedy and straight plays, and is most famously known as the home of Peter Richardson’s ‘Comic Strip’.
The Boulevard Theatre will produces its own in-house productions, alongside a vibrant late night programme of live music, comedy, spoken word, cabaret and film.
The theatre will feature a cutting-edge design and virtual reality technology, allowing for multiple auditorium configurations, including an advanced, art-deco inspired fully revolving auditorium and balcony, with a seated capacity of up to 165, and a two floor glass bridge leading to a restaurant and bar area.
Representing a radically new type of performance space for London, the interior finishes give a striking and modern aesthetic, picking up on the look and feel of the surrounding Soho nightlife. The design will accommodate the varying identities that the space takes on, from day to night, cabaret to catwalk and theatre-in-the-round.
The theatre will be an innovative, theatrical response to a building with a rich heritage and a small, complex footprint. Given the nature of the building’s past, the performance space was quickly envisaged as an intimate room with the ability to transform within minutes. The circular form wraps the audience together and the box-in-box acoustic treatment isolates the performance from the nearby restaurants and neighbourhood bustle. The brief called for ‘an audacious and enchanting space that will surprise patrons with every visit’.
A central and unique feature of the Boulevard Theatre will be its ability to rotate at both stalls and balcony level to achieve a full 360 degree revolve. The design opens up a world of possibility to the creative team at the theatre. The balcony can be reconfigured in just three minutes.
A complex pipe grid system is bolted to the soffit of the room with specific, remotely controlled lighting fixtures chosen to ensure clear sight-lines for patrons sitting in the rear row of the balcony. The architectural and house lighting systems combine into one holistic lighting design system with all components being individually programmable.
In the front of house spaces, all of the speakers have been concealed within the ceiling for minimal interruption of the space. A bespoke lighting system devised by Charcoalblue with 18 Degrees includes an LED interface embedded within the window frames and panels of LEDs throughout the auditorium which can be finely customized and controlled backstage. The large street-facing windows feature a triple blind system; one for blackout, another to be projected onto and a third to prevent glare during the daytime.
The food and beverage on offer will not only be an entity unto itself, but inextricably aligned to the core values of the artistic intent: “a good night out”. The art of theatre will be brought out into the front of house, removing the traditional boundaries that exist within theatres. Each point of participation for the guest, be it the bar or the show, will enhance the other.
Director of Soho Estates Fawn James (the granddaughter of Paul Raymond, entertainment impresario and property investor, who opened the original Boulevard Theatre), will be joined by new Artistic Director Rachel Edwards (Sweeney Todd – London & New York, Founder of Tooting Arts Club). Fawn intends to honour her grandfather’s legacy by helping to promote Soho as an arts and entertainment district. The regeneration of Walker’s Court has provided the ideal opportunity to amalgamate her passion for the arts and to embrace her heritage.
The venue and operations of the new theatre will be run by General Manager Leon Scott, supported by Executive Director Martin Ball.