The new Boulevard Theatre will have a slightly different feel to the old one…
Soho was a rather different place in the 80s, a whirlwind of neon lights, records stores, and strip clubs. Like a lot of London, gentrification has changed the place immeasurably, but the new Boulevard Theatre will bridge the gap a little bit – cherishing a little bit of Soho’s past, whilst looking forward to its place in the modern theatre scene.
That’s because this isn’t the first Soho spot to bear the Boulevard Theatre name; the first was a theatre and comedy club owned by porn baron and ‘King of Soho’ Paul Raymond. Attracting names like Eddie Izzard, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, and Rik Mayall, the theatre had its heyday in the 80s as a hotbed of alternative comedy.
Now, another member of the Raymond clan is aiming to bring the theatre back to prominence. Raymond’s granddaughter Fawn James is spearheading the theatre’s transformation from has-been to hi-tech performance space, part of the wider redevelopment of Walker’s Court. A 165-seat playhouse means it’s a snug theatre, but a fully revolving auditorium and balcony makes it a highly adaptable space, easily changed up depending on the production.
The Boulevard Theatre aims to put on four shows a year, with a strong focus on emerging writers. It’ll all happen under the guidance of artistic director Rachel Edwards, who recently took a production of Sweeney Todd all the way from Tooting to the West End and New York. In between shows, the theatre will offer a grab bag of entertainment, with comedy, music, cabaret, and film all in the offing.
The theatre will boasts its own bar and restaurant, with the food menu aiming to be 50% vegan. An opening date has proved elusive, but it’ll be sometime this autumn – expect an announcement of their inaugural programme to arrive sometime in the summer. I’d hazard a guess the shows will be a little tamer than the days of Raymond’s Revuebar, though…
The Boulevard Theatre opens in autumn 2019, at 6 Walker’s Court, Soho W1F 0BT. Nearest stations are Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square.
All images: SODA Studio
Also published on Medium.