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The Newport Odeon Theatre was opened on the 12th of March 1938 with Nova Pilbeam in “Young and Innocent”. It was designed by architect Harry Weedon and the job architect was Arthur J. Price, built in classic Art Deco style for the Oscar Deutsch chain of Odeon Theatres Ltd.
It remained the Odeon until its sad closure on 30th May 1981 with Elliott Gould in “The Last Flight of Noah’s Ark”. It was empty for 21 years, apart from a period when the ground floor was used as a snooker hall from 1986 to 1991. For a short while it became Capone’s American Bar nightclub. However the building miraculously escaped demolition.
In 2003, the former cinema was restored as a music venue keeping many of the surviving original features. Re-named Newport City Live Arena, it is one of only two buildings in Newport that have an Art Deco style, the other being the Maindee Baths.
In early-2008, it was reported that the building was in use as the Newport City Church, but they had moved out by February 2009, and the building again stood unused. In early-2010, it had been taken over by Chris Plaister (a member of the Cinema Theatre Association) and was being developed into a museum of cinema and television equipment history.
In January 2015 it was purchased by Andy Byers from Bolton, and work began to restore the building. It will re-opened as a 2,000 capacity music venue on 27th February 2016 with X-Factor finalists Rough Copy performing. It will be re-named Neon ‘Newport Entertains Our Nation’, a play on the original Odeon name which Oscar Deutsch advertised as ‘Oscar Deutsch Entertains Our Nation’. In May 2016 the two top floors of the building will be converted into cinema use, and show classic and Bollywood films.
The former Odeon Theatre is a Grade II Listed building.
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