King’s Theatre has reopened to the public following an extensive refurbishment project.
The project was designed to improve the visitor experience at the theatre and to overhaul the existing fabric of the building. The refurbishment of King’s Theatre was completed in time for the opening day of the 2012 Edinburgh International Festival.
H&J Martin was the main contractor on the project, whilst Edinburgh based architectural practice Smith Scott Mullan Associates provided all of the architectural services. Rybka was the mechanical and electrical consultant and the structural consultant was Will Rudd Davidson.
Funding for the £2.6 million refurbishment project was provided by The City of Edinburgh Council, Historic Scotland and the charitable organisation The Nancie Massey Trust. With work complete and the building reopen to the public, Festival City Theatres Trust will continue to operate King’s Theatre.
Festival City Theatres Trust Chief Executive, Duncan Hendry, said:
“The restoration project has made significant improvements to the front of house areas and the auditorium. Our audiences will see and feel a real difference and we thank the City of Edinburgh Council for their substantial investment and continued support.”
Culture and Leisure Convener, Councillor Richard Lewis, added:
“From The Royal Shakespeare Company to the Gang Show, from the best of London’s West End to Stanley Baxter, the Grand Old Lady of Leven Street has been a firm Edinburgh favourite for over a century. This essential investment ensures that audiences of all ages can continue to enjoy shows at the King’s in comfort for many more years to come.”
Work began on the project in September 2011. Phase One comprised a number of external improvements to the existing sandstone in order to make the building wind and water tight and some necessary modifications to the roof to improve insulation. In addition, some external plant was introduced within the building to improve ventilation, whilst a few external cosmetic works also took place.
All of the refurbishment work on Phase One was completed whilst the theatre remained open to the public and reached completion in January 2012.
Phase Two of the project got underway following the final performance of the 2011/2012 pantomime. The second phase of the refurbishment project concentrated on internal improvements and comprised the redecoration of the main foyer and stairs, the installation of a new box-office, a new accessible toilet in the box office area, and a general improvement of key facilities for disabled customers. During the works, new carpets were also laid throughout the main public areas of the theatre.
A significant alteration at the theatre included the installation of new seats in the Stalls and Dress Circle. Essex-based theatre specialists Kirwin and Simpson manufactured and installed all of the new seating on the project. The seats replicate Lazarus-style seating – a popular form of seating in the 1990s – and offer improved leg room and comfort for theatre goers.
Seating in the Upper Circle was also improved, before Phase Two reached completion in June 2012.
Festival City Theatres Trust General Manager, Brian Loudon, said:
“What visitors will notice most when coming back to the theatre is that we have re-floored and re-seated the Stalls and the Dress Circle, and have improved ventilation in the building making the theatre a lot cooler.
“We have also improved access, so now wheel chair users can enter the building the same way as all of our other customers and a platform lift will now take them up to the Stalls.
“The works were implemented to improve the customer experience, to rework access into the theatre and to improve health and safety within the building. King’s Theatre is now slightly greener than it was before too, with draft proofing and heat recovery systems installed into the building. Where we have made an intervention we have tried to make it as environmentally friendly as possible and even though the customers may not see all of the works, ultimately they will reap the benefits via a more efficiently run building.”
Brian Loudon added:
“King’s Theatre opened in 1906 and a major refurbishment took place in the mid-1950s, but the last time that any significant improvements were made was in 1985.
“Our aim is to put art in front of people and so what is very important for us is that we present our customers with a comfortable seat so that they can enjoy the experience. A building that has not had any money spent on it for 25 years needs to be refreshed so this project was vital for our continued operation of King’s Theatre.
“The feedback has been great. Councillors and sponsors took a tour around the building and everyone is really pleased at what has been achieved.”