First new-build West-End venue in 50 years enjoys ‘glorious’ opening night
First new-build West-End venue in 50 years enjoys ‘glorious’ opening night (Tim Soar/AHMM/PA)

The owner of the first new-build West-End theatre in 50 years says the venue’s opening night was a “glorious and thrilling” evening, which brought her “enormous relief”.

Nica Burns said the venue had been “embraced” by audiences, but still needed to “earn its place” in the world-famous theatre district.

@sohoplace opened on Thursday night with a performance of Marvellous, and is the culmination of a 12-year project orchestrated by Ms Burns.

The new theatre is adjacent to the site of the old Astoria theatre, in central London, which was demolished to build Crossrail.

Theatre owner Nica Burns said the venue needed ‘to earn its place’ in the world-famous theatre district (Geraint Lewis/PA)

Speaking to the PA news agency following the conclusion of the venue’s first performance, Ms Burns said she felt “an enormous sense of relief” now that her achievement had sunk in properly.

“At the start of the evening it was a potent mix of adrenaline and fear… the attention to detail has been literally millimetre by millimetre – a great deal of passion and thought and care has gone into it,” she said.

“But at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what I think, we will be judged by the public.

“People loved the building, which of course for me is a ‘thank goodness and wow’ – because when you work this close on something you can lose perspective.”

It’s exciting to be open but we have to earn our place among all these great buildings.

@sohoplace owner, Nica Burns

Ms Burns said that @sohoplace was built to “offer something different and different possibilities” amid the grandeur and history of the West End.

“It’s exciting to be open but we have to earn our place among all these great buildings,” she told PA.

“It was a glorious, thrilling evening and it was fantastic to hear the waves of laughter coming in followed by the silence of the emotional moments.”

Marvellous follows the inspiring true story of Neil “Nello” Baldwin who, defying all expectations, has led and continues to lead, the most amazing life.

Marvellous follows the inspiring true story of Neil ‘Nello’ Baldwin who, defying all expectations, has led and continues to lead, the most amazing life (Craig Sugden/PA)

“We’ve all come out of incredibly difficult times … where everyone’s lives were overturned and what was normal stopped,” Ms Burns said.

“This play is a very inspirational true story of someone who was told they weren’t able to follow their dreams (but) said I’m not accepting any of this and overcame every challenge to have the most marvellous life.

“That is an inspiring story for today.”

She added: “I am a very, very happy woman tonight, but we just need to keep on working for excellence in everything we do.”

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