Nimax to run 350-seat ‘in-the-round’ Astoria replacement

Nimax Theatres has signed a deal to operate the new 350-seat West End theatre proposed as a replacement for the former London Astoria.

The Astoria was demolished in 2009 to make way for the Crossrail redevelopment around Tottenham Court Road station. Crossrail today submitted a planning application detailing its proposals for the area, which include the replacement theatre.

The site above the station, which will also host retail, office and residential units, is being redeveloped by property company Derwent London. Nimax Theatres has signed an agreement with Derwent to run the theatre on site, if planning permission is granted. Building work on the commercial development, including the theatre, will not start until after construction on Tottenham Court Road station is complete in 2017.

Nimax chief executive Nica Burns told The Stage that she hopes the theatre will become London’s first small, purpose built, in-the-round theatre.

She said: “Derwent and I have signed a heads of agreement. I’m utterly committed to it, very excited and really love both the building, and the theatre that we’re now hoping that Westminster will give us permission to put in it.

“Over the years, I’ve listened to many of our best creative teams and heard what they have to say – the theatre reflects that. It will have a genuinely flexible auditorium, which will have four main configurations – end on, half thrust, full thrust and in the round. We don’t have a small, intimate playhouse, which is a great in-the-round space anywhere in London. That’s why I wanted to have one – it’s very important that this theatre is an asset for the whole theatre community, as well as the public, and it provides a facility that is not already existing.”

If permission for the scheme is granted by Westminster City Council, the theatre – which has yet to be named – will join the Apollo, Duchess, Garrick, Lyric and Vaudeville theatres, which are already operated by Nimax. At 350 seats, it would be the smallest venue operated by the company. Plans for the theatre have been designed by Ian Albery, who was responsible for the original conversion of the Donmar Warehouse.

Commenting on the redevelopment scheme, Mayor of London Boris Johnson added: “The east end of Oxford Street has long deserved the economic boost, improved public space and glamour these plans will deliver. It will be a gleaming example of the opportunities that will follow the route of this new line, as well as offering the facility to zoom from one side of London to the other at record speed.”

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