St James Theatre

The first newly built theatre in London for 30 years held a prior to opening look around yesterday.  It’s impressive and welcoming at the same time.  The curved glass of the main entrance allows you to look into the bar area before you enter, which is useful.  If you want to go straight through into the studio or main theatre there is another entrance to the reception desk.  From here a futuristic staircase made from six tons of Carrera marble curves up into the Brasserie which is run by Sir Cameron Mackintosh’s brother Nicky.   The main theatre has a large stage with wide wrap around very comfortable seating for over 300 people.  There is state of the art technical hardware and software for the staging.   You would expect this from Robert Mackintosh the creative director and CEO and also the other brother of Sir Cameron Mackintosh.  David Gilmore is the artistic director, Lady Lucy French the director of development and Guy Kitchenn is the executive theatre director.  Together they make a powerfully creative bunch of experienced people.  The studio theatre with its own bar has a cabaret late night feel.  Clare Burt and Steph Fearon will perform there as well as Frisky and Mannish, Nina Conti and Abandoman on comedy nights and Carol Grimes and Dorian Ford on jazz nights.  There are lots more names in the pipeline. A revival of Our Country’s good directed by the great Max Stafford-Clark and Sandi Toksvig’s play Bully Boy directed by David Gilmore are both part of the opening season in the main house.  So it’s exciting.  I really liked the feel of the place and the ambience was helped by the people who work there.  There was a great feeling of them belonging and enjoying.  Debra, who showed me around said that it was amazing to her because she’s seen the new theatre take shape from a hole in the ground.  It is amazing that this stylish, glamorous but unpretentious theatre has emerged from the ashes of the old, grey Westminster Theatre.  I did see a couple of productions at the Westminster Theatre before it was burned,  I plan to see a lot more at the new St James Theatre.

St James Theatre in the process of being completed

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