New Theatre Royal (Portsmouth)
New Theatre Royal (Portsmouth) Tours
Take a journey celebrating 160 years of history of the New Theatre Royal. Travellers will have the opportunity to discover the heyday of the Theatre in the 1900’s, the devastating fire in 1970’s, the fight to keep the theatre alive and the various building uses during this time, right through to the reopening of the multimillion redevelopment on October 2015.
A unique jewel of a theatre bosting a stunning 19th Century auditorium attached to a 21st Century stage house. During the tour we discuss the architectural design, the performers who have played on the NTR stage and the future of the unique building.
Duration: 90 minutes
How to book: Visitors wishing to attend the New Theatre Royal (Portsmouth) tour may book online or by contacting the theatre's Box Office by phone at +44 (0)2392 649000.
Tour dates: Various dates scheduled, please see the website of the New Theatre Royal to see upcoming dates.
Cost: £5, group rates available.
How to get there
Portsmouth is a dynamic and vibrant waterfront city packed with great reasons to visit.
From the pomp and ceremony of our proud naval and maritime heritage, to towering world-class visitor attractions, museums and galleries, unique shopping destinations, great places to eat and miles and miles of beautiful waterfront, Portsmouth offers something for absolutely everyone.
Ideally situated on the south coast of England the UK’s only island city is ideal for a short break by the sea. The city offers a rich cultural offer with magnificent theatres, live music venues, contemporary art galleries, two cathedrals, a diverse literary heritage, galleries, nightclubs, events and festivals throughout the year.
In 1854 Henry Rutley became licensee of the White Swan and its adjacent hall, and in 1856 rebuilt it as The Theatre Royal. In 1884 CJ Phipps designed a new, bigger theatre, re-named The New Theatre Royal. Ellen Terry, Sarah Bernhardt and Henry Irving graced the stage. At the turn of the century, Frank Matcham redesigned the theatre, enlarging the stage to 65 feet and increasing the capacity to nearly 2000.
From 1932 to 1948 it was a cinema, then re-opened as a variety theatre, hosting legendary acts such as Laurel and Hardy, Max Miller, Morecambe & Wise and many more.
Between 1957 to 1971 the theatre had various uses - a repertory theatre under Kim Peacock and Hector Ross and wrestling and bingo in the 1960’s. Ken Russell filmed “The Boy Friend” starring Twiggy in the theatre in 1971.
A pivotal moment in the theatre’s history was the fire of 1972 which destroyed the stage, fly tower and technical block. Over following years, the theatre was vandalised - lead stolen from the roof, holes smashed in the ceiling and stained glass windows broken.
Volunteers were allowed to enter the building in 1975 to prevent further damage and the New Theatre Royal Trust formed to protect the building - purchasing it 1980. Further refurbishment in 2004 saw an end- stage and lighting grid installed; a false wall created a ground-floor bar; the upper circle re-furbished and the façade cleaned. The theatre now seated 500. Fundraising started and a deal was struck with Portsmouth University to build a home for their Creative and Cultural Industries students on part of the site. On 15th October 2015 the Theatre returned to its former glory with a brand new 21st century full fly tower over a 10-meter-deep stage. The auditorium now seats 700. Behind the stage are new offices, dressing rooms and the Minghella Studio.