City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Kings Theatre Opening After Refurbishment


By edg - Posted on 03 August 2012

King's Theatre refurb photocall

The King's Theatre revealed its £2.6 million refurbishment, before it opens for the Edinburgh International Festival on the 11th for Tadashi Suzuki's staging of Greek classic Electra.

The historic theatre, originally built as a variety theatre in 1906, has had a new roof put in and extensive stonework repairs carried out. The main foyer and stairs have been redecorated, a modern box office added, new carpets placed in the main public areas, improved facilities for wheelchair users made and better ventilation added to the auditorium.

The work, which was funded by The City of Edinburgh Council, Historic Scotland and The Nancie Massey Trust, was completed in June.

As part of the improvements, new seats were made and installed in the Stalls and Dress Circle by Essex-based theatre seating specialists Kirwin and Simpson. They are replicas of a ‘lazarus’ style seat, popular in the 1900s, and offer more leg-room and comfort. Seating in parts of the Upper Circle has also been improved.

The venue's box office is the only part of the restoration job that has been given a contemporary look. It now has a larger ticket sales area and is more visible from the street.

King's Theatre Box office

Duncan Hendry, Chief Executive of the Festival City Theatres Trust (pictured top right), said: “The first stage of the restoration project has made significant improvements to the front of house areas and the auditorium. I’m sure our audiences will see and feel a real difference and we look forward to welcoming them back.”

Culture and Leisure Convener, Cllr Richard Lewis (pictured top left), added: “This essential investment will ensure that audiences of all ages can continue to enjoy shows at the King’s in comfort for many more years to come.”

Third restoration

The works, designed by Edinburgh-based architects Smith Scott Mullan Associates, is only the third significant refurbishment the theatre has undergone in over 100 years.

The first in 1951 saw major reconfiguration of the upper seating level with the removal of the balcony and an increase in the rake of the upper circle.

Then, in 1985, restoration work was undertaken in the foyers, the auditorium was redecorated, including the dome, the orchestra pits were enlarged and, most significantly, the seats were replaced with cinema style seats.

The next stage of works is still being scoped but is likely to focus on improvements to the Upper Circle, including reflooring and the installation of replacement seating. The ceiling fresco would also be repainted as part of an improvement of the auditorium’s overall decorative scheme.