Two businessmen are to open a revived, modernised version of the world’s oldest actors’ haunt, The Green Room Club, after discovering the previously troubled organisation’s name had not been copyrighted.
Gary Stewart and Jean-Pierre Foster, owner of the Zilli Bar in Soho, have now registered the name and are due to open an up-market version of the club in a four-storey building that is being refurbished to accommodate it in Romilley Street, central London, in August. It has already signed up more 300 members as well as corporate members such as the Natural Nylon film production company. Comedian Barry Cryer has agreed to be a club patron.
Stewart has emphasised that the new venture is not connected in any way with its former namesake.
“Jean-Pierre Foster and I have every respect for the history and tradition of the old Green Room Club but the new club is entirely different,” he said. “It is modern, up-market and we are catering to younger people both in the entertainment and allied professions such as advertising. We are a commercial venture in competition with places like the Groucho Club and Soho House. The premises are superb and we have several bars, a restaurant, cinema and a roof terrace.”
The original Green Room Club was formed in 1866 and for many years was housed in Adam Street off The Strand. At the height of its fame in the forties and fifties membership included leading names in the acting profession such as Charlie Chaplin, Laurence Olivier, Donald Wolfit and Richard Attenborough.
By the nineties, however, the club’s fortunes were in sharp decline. Membership had dwindled to a handful and due to poor management policies the club was heavily in debt. After a court battle in 2001 the club was evicted from Adam Street and moved to nearby Mercer Street on the site of the defunct Macready’s Theatre bar. Again unable to pay its rent, the Green Room was evicted in 2002.
After a disastrous fund-raising show at the London Palladium the same year, which left the club even further in the red, the club disbanded completely and was finally dissolved in October 2003.
Membership of the club is £150 per year and £2000 for life for Equity members. The new management have offered old Green Room Club members the same annual rate with an extra year free. For information about membership ring: 07950 148547.