The beautiful Victorian theatre was originally built in 1884 and extensively re-designed and enlarged by Frank Matcham in 1900. Used as a theatre for many years, it then became a cinema, film set, and a boxing arena and then back to a theatre in the late 1960’s. In 1972, the stage was destroyed by fire. Thankfully the auditorium was saved by the fire curtain, however, the theatre closed and remained unused and decaying until 1986 when a thrust stage was built and its first live performance for 20 years took place.
Almost 20 years later it was becoming apparent that the theatre needed a serious upgrade again whilst respecting and protecting its heritage and interior. The New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth needed to increase seating, install a fly tower and upgrade facilities including the lighting and sound.
A collaboration between the University of Portsmouth and Portsmouth City Council raised funds for an extensive refurbishment that included increasing the number of seats from 500 to 700, building a new rehearsal studio and new offices. Part of that refurbishment included major improvements to the stage, fly-tower, backstage area and the lighting and sound facilities.
Working directly for the theatre, Torpedo Factory Group, Audio Visual and Stage Technology specialists, provided the lighting, rigging, audio and video infrastructure, audio wiring, show relay, Intercom, backstage paging, an EV main house sound system.
The New Theatre Royal has been returned to its former glory and is now a dynamic, state-of-the-art venue. Once again, world-class actors and directors can come to develop and rehearse productions.
The lighting and sound technology installed by the Torpedo Factory Group creates a perfect mix of unique heritage and 21st-century technology delivering stunning audio visual to create the ideal, flexible venue and is consistently sold out and in use.
In fact, the University of Portsmouth liked the new facilities at the theatre so much they have re-located their performing arts teaching facilities to next door.