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London to Get $9.4 Million Theater Near Buckingham Palace

St. James Theater
An external view of the new St. James Theatre near Victoria Station and Buckingham Palace. The venue is costing more than 6 million pounds, about $9.3 million, and being built by a group of property developers on the site of the Westminster Theatre, destroyed in a 2002 fire. Photographer: Rob Cable/The Corner Shop PR via Bloomberg

June 28 (Bloomberg) -- London is to get what is said to be its first newly built theater in 30 years.

St. James Theatre, located steps away from Buckingham Palace, will have cost more than 6 million pounds ($9.3 million). The theater starts its maiden season in September with a play written by comedienne and broadcaster Sandi Toksvig, its managers announced today.

“Bully Boy,” about a young soldier in Iraq set to be court-martialed in connection with the death of an Arab boy, will be the inaugural show. The venue is on the spot of the former Westminster Theatre, which was destroyed in a 2002 fire.

The St. James is being built by a group of developers as a condition for their being granted planning permission for an adjacent apartment complex. The theater’s managers, Entertainment Theatres Ltd., will run the 312-seat auditorium and a studio space for comedy and jazz, private and corporate events, and the recording of broadcast-quality videos.

“It’s going to take 18 months for the theater to establish itself,” said Robert Mackintosh, joint chief executive and creative director, during a media tour last week.

Artistic Director David Gilmore said the new venue fell into the same broad category as the Trafalgar Studios, the Donmar Warehouse, the Almeida or the Menier Chocolate Factory.

“Artistically, we are trying to find a path where we don’t overlap with any of them,” he said, standing on the spot of the St. James’s future stage.

Still partially a building site when shown to reporters last week, the St. James Theatre will have a foyer with a marble and oak finish, and a 20-ton marble staircase currently under construction in Italy. That will fulfill the planning-permission requirement of having a designated public work of art.

A bar-brasserie in the foyer area will operate as an all-day cafe, while a restaurant with 62 covers will offer quality and preferably British-sourced food.

The theater’s subsequent productions are: “Daddy Long Legs” (Oct. 31 to Dec. 8), “Cinderella” (Dec. 12, 2012 to Jan. 26, 2013) and “Our Country’s Good” (Jan. 30 to March 9, 2013).

Tickets will cost 45 pounds at most during the season.

Muse highlights include Scott Reyburn on art market, Robert Heller on rock music, Jason Harper on cars and Rich Jaroslovsky on technology.

To contact the writer of this story: Farah Nayeri in London at farahn@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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