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      22.05.2012 21:49
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      Great venue for a first rate performance.

      The Savoy Theatre, London: probably as close as I'll ever get to staying at the Savoy! Of all the theatre interiors I've been lucky enough to view over the years, this has to be one of the most impressive. While I regret never having seen this before the disastrous fire in the early 1990s, the restored 1920s art deco interior is still a real delight.

      I do recall being struck by the magnificent façade of the Savoy Hotel when this first caught my eye in the early '60s. But I was less aware of this gem of a theatre right next to it. In fact the theatre predates the hotel. Its auditorium is supposed to have been one of the most beautiful in Europe when it first opened in the late Victorian era. Originally developed by Richard D'Oyly Carte to stage Gilbert & Sullivan premieres, it seems to have gone through several reincarnations since then, particularly in the 1920s.

      ~~Our recent visit~~

      On a recent trip to the West End my wife and I benefited from a special discount offer for premium tickets to a preview of Neil Simon's play 'The Sunshine Boys', at the Savoy, starring Danny DeVito and Richard Griffiths. The performances were great and the production values excellent (well worth a separate review) - but for me the surprise attraction was the theatre itself.

      The venue was warm, welcoming and comfortable with fine acoustics, lighting etc. It seems to have a tradition of technical innovation as the first public building to be lit entirely by electricity, according to the theatre's website (address below). But what really caught my attention visually was the auditorium. I was particularly struck by the gold elements of the colour scheme and the spectacular 'skylight' ceiling.

      Apparently the original 1920s designs by Basil Ionides had been kept, enabling a faithful restoration after the fire. In fact, it was only after returning to Scotland from our London trip that I discovered Ionides was actually born up here and studied at Glasgow School of Art!

      ~~A premium package~~

      The special offer through our Radio Times subscription entitled us to half price premium seats (normally c. £74), plus free programmes and a complimentary drink. Our seats were excellent, comfortable with a good view from the dress circle, and the free programmes were duly provided. The only problem was the free drinks. We hadn't noticed no vouchers had been included for these. But the bar did at least accommodate us with an advance order for the intermission.

      ~~Handy for the 'watering hole'~~

      Somewhat ironically, I must have passed this theatre dozens of times in recent years, particularly since the Coal Hole, next door, has been one of my favourite central London pubs for at least a decade.

      ~~Tickets, prices etc.~~

      The Savoy is part of Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG). I found ATG's online booking process quite straightforward and received our discount quoting the Radio Times code.

      Prices currently range from £12 - £74.

      ~~Verdict~~

      Great venue for a first rate performance.

      ~~Address, accessibility~~

      Strand Embankment,
      London WC2R OET

      Tel. 0870 164 8787

      I noticed special provision had been made for wheelchair access and understand this can be requested in advance.

      ~~Select links~~

      * www.savoytheatre.org

      [© SteveS001 2012. A version of this original review may appear on other review sites]

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