The opening of St James Theatre: the place to go in central London
St James Theatre is the first to be built in central London in 30 years; it is a stunning 312-seat venue with an intimate studio, so is certainly poised to be a force in the Off-West End. As far as aesthetics go, the theatre strives on elegance with a modern feel and what’s more, it is easily accessible.
Home to pious performances designed to straighten London’s crooked moral compass, the Westminster struggled for decades on the site until it burned down in 2002. Thursday was the gala opening of St James Theatre. Evgeny Lebedev, owner of The Evening Standard and The Independent, declared the theatre “risen like a phoenix”, officially open before we traipsed, champagne in hand, to watch the Royal Academy of Music’s choir present excerpts of Howard Goodall’s adaptation of George Eliot’s Silas Marner. The acoustics are bright, the seats comfortable and the rake extreme enough to ensure every seat is a good one. Afterwards, Camilla Kerslake’s achingly beautiful singing followed before the Ruen Brothers finished with their post-1950s sounds from Scunthorpe.
The brightness of the evening heralded a future which, according to associate artistic director James Albrecht, promises everything from musicals to devised work. Hinting Edinburgh previews might even find a home within the wine-coloured panelling of the studio, he added that St James has yet to define itself, offering instead that it’s open to a world of possibility.
To learn more about the St James Theatre, or to book tickets for their debut production, Bully Boy, visit their website.