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The New Theatre opened on 10th December 1906 with a production of William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night”. Seating for 1,570 was provided in orchestra, circle and balcony levels.
In 1931, alterations were made to allow for the theatre to show films and it became a cinema, with occasional music hall and live shows. In 1935, live theatre returned full-time under the direction of Prince Littler. During the 1970’s and 1980’s it played films on Sundays and also late night screenings on Fridays and Saturdays.
The theatre was closed in 1970 for refurbishment and a new stage was built in 1976. It went through an extensive refurbishment in 1988/89 that opened up the foyer area as it used to be just cramped corridors and stairs leading to the auditorium. Now it has a very spacious open plan foyer. The auditorium remains unchanged but still very beautiful.
The exterior is in brick and Bath stone on a very prominent corner site. Any major rebuilding or extension are impossible due to the theatre’s corner location in the very centre of the city.
The New Theatre is Cardiff’s number one touring venue. It was home to the Welsh National Opera for 40 years until it moved to the new Millenium Theatre in the docks area. All major touring musicals and plays have played the New Theatre, despite its very limited stage area, compared to other theatres.
The New Theatre is a Grade II Listed building.
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