The Kings Theatre is a wee gem. There’s a warmth to the place that envelops you from the moment you arrive, while its rococo features and a remarkable new ceiling fresco epitomise theatrical grandeur. It was originally constructed in 1906, but even now, over 200, 000 people flock to the venue each year. Many of the productions are high profile touring productions with big names regularly appearing on its stage in plays, musicals and kids’ pieces. The King’s is also home to Scotland’s biggest panto, packing out its 1300 seat auditorium for matinees and evening shows throughout the festive period. This alone makes it a commercially viable enterprise and King’s has the potential to be so much more than it already is. But the place has been lacking for some time and well in need of a facelift.
Yesterday, Capital Theatres announced huge redevelopment plans to turn the King’s Theatre into a state of the art theatre and hub, while retaining its stunning baroque architecture. This injection of cash estimated to be over £20 million at this stage (coming from investors, the council and benefactors), will enable a much bigger variety of shows to be staged – including opera and dance, previously precluded by the awful orchestra pit which will is set for renovation. Lifts, architectural changes and ‘democratised’ seating will mean more accessible areas for audiences, actors and backstage staff. While it will lose 200 seats from its capacity, these will be replaced by something far more usable – and likely to be filled to capacity more often.
The idea is that not only will more people be able (and want) to watch shows at the King’s, but that the theatre will be in demand from productions companies, thanks to the resulting upgraded backstage and technical facilities. It’s not all about theatre goers either, plans are in place for a cafe on the ground floor, recognising the large amount of footfall and cafe culture in the Tollcross area. There will also be event spaces and a snazzy glass roof bar to take in the fabulous views. The bad news is that it will of course have to close for a time. The good news is that once complete, the King’s Theatre will be far more prominent on the UK’s theatre map – and a great place to visit by day and by night, all year round.
Images courtesy of Bennetts Associates.