Soho Has A Brand New Theatre – The Boulevard
As that irascible ring-wing supporting mop-top, Morrisey once sang, ‘We hate it when our friends become successful…’ Unless, of course, the friends in question are the delightful Russell Potter and his spritely team of architects at Soda Studio who are celebrating the opening of The Boulevard Theatre, part of their £40m redevelopment of Walker’s Court in Soho. We have been fortunate to work with Soda for many a year on the redesign of all of our restaurants and we can testify to both their vision and talent in transferring the essence of our spiritual home, Soho to all points east, south, north and west to all our sites across London. If anyone can conserve the cultural heritage of the area while making it accessible for a contemporary audience’s them…
‘The brief was to make it the most flexible space possible’ – Russell Potter, director of Soda
The transformation of Walker’s Court – the less than salubrious Soho alley once dominated by the Raymond Revue Bar, the ‘world centre of erotic entertainment’ – has undoubtedly been controversial. Anyone familiar with the history of Soho understands that change is one of its defining characteristics, of course, but critics – perhaps quite rightly – are bemoaning the potential ‘shinyfication’ of the whole of the city as everything starts to look and feel the same. The opening of a brand new theatre, however, can only ever be good news. The Boulevard is named after a former sister venue to the striptease club, which was once part of porn baron Paul Raymond’s empire. As well as staging drama, the original Boulevard was also home to the Comic Strip in the 1980s and then hosted Eddie Izzard’s Raging Bull Club.
The stylish new theatre is an intimate, circular space with only 165 seats. It features a fully revolving auditorium and balcony, allowing it to be significantly reconfigured for different productions. Just the notion that it is able to spin its audience around – something that Balans Soho Society and our rather excellent cocktail list have taken pride in doing for decades, – is surely enough to garner praise from even the most resistant-to-change Sohoite.