Thursday, September 16, 2010

New London Theatre Captures 'War Horse' - The Venue

The New London Theatre was built in 1973 and walking by it one might think this glass structure is a bank or office building. A theater has stood on this site from the mid-19th century with the last, called the Winter Garden, closing its doors in 1959. It remained empty until it was razed in 1965 for a complex of shops, apartments and restaurants and the New London Theatre.

Unique about the theatre is the playing space is not fixed. A third of the floor of the auditorium is built on a revolving stage and walls are moveable panels. The auditorium shape can change from amphitheater to theatre in the round; from a small studio to a capacity of over 900 seats on two levels.

The New London became world renowned when Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Cats’ premiered here in 1981. “Now and Forever” was its slogan but eventually the production closed in 2002 and at the time was the longest running musical in West End history.

Attending ‘Cats’ in 1993, it was a surprise to see that the first few rows were situated on the revolve stage which changed some patrons seats from center to side once the stage turned to its performing position.

With so much concrete, steel and glass the feeling of the New London is more like an airport. It even includes an escalator that leads to the auditorium foyer. From the foyer a maze of stairs and doors leads to the different sections of seating.

The last show I saw here was the 2003 revival of ‘Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ starring the late Stephen Gately (of Boyzone fame).


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