New Theatre Royal celebrates 160th anniversary

This year marks the 160th anniversary of New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth, and to celebrate, the historic playhouse will be hosting an exciting season of shows, including a special celebratory event on Friday 11th March.

Kicking off the celebrations with a specially-commissioned fanfare from Sir Peter Maxwell Davies — one of the foremost composers of our time — New Theatre Royal 160 promises to be a night of wonderfully diverse music and theatre.

There will be performances from The Royal Marines Corps of Drums and a skittle orchestra, and local choirs, musicians, and performers of all ages and genres will also be taking to the stage.

Back in 1856, New Theatre Royal opened with a performance of Massinger‘s A New Way to Pay Old Debts. The Portsmouth Times later reported that the theatre was ‘crowded to excess’ but that the playhouse’s décor was ‘very good, far above the average’.

New Theatre Royal initially opened its doors under the control of former travelling circus owner Henry Rutley, and since then it has enjoyed a long and fascinating history. Despite many attempts of closure and demolition, the Guildhall Walk-based playhouse has shown true resilience, surviving fire and war to remain a cultural landmark in the heart of Portsmouth.

One of the very few remaining operational C. J. Phipps/Frank Matcham theatres in the UK, the Grade II listed Victorian New Theatre Royal has continually evolved to embrace changing cultural trends, accommodating the era of film, variety performance, and even live wrestling in the early 1960s.

Headlining stars who have walked the boards of the theatre over the decades include Ellen Terry, Sarah Bernhardt, Henry Irving, and Twiggy, who launched her film career in Ken Russell’s critically-acclaimed musical film The Boy Friend, which was shot at New Theatre Royal.

2016 also marks the first full year of New Theatre Royal being open since undergoing an extensive renovation project. To mark the occasion, the playhouse have organised a terrific programme of shows and events, including high-quality productions like Shakespeare’s Globe’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Shadowlands, top comedic talent such as Rob Beckett, Pam Ayres, and pub landlord Al Murray, and an unmissable musical line-up comprised of performances from Hazel O’Connor, Lee Mead, and The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

Tickets for the New Theatre Royal 160 commemoration are £6.00 and can be purchased through New Theatre Royal’s online box office »

Find out more about New Theatre Royal on Team Locals Places » and the New Theatre Royal website »