Comedian ushers in a new era for Portsmouth theatre

ALL CHANGE Portsmouth's New Theatre Royal, and inset Sandi Toksvig
ALL CHANGE Portsmouth's New Theatre Royal, and inset Sandi Toksvig
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DRESSED in a hard hat and carrying a chainsaw, Sandi Toksvig made a dramatic entrance for the final performance to be held on the New Theatre Royal’s stage.

The comedian was the last to perform at the historic theatre, in Guildhall Walk, before the stage is demolished to make way for a major revamp.

It marks another key milestone in the scheme which will transform the areas of the theatre’s backlot destroyed by fire in 1972.

Sandi, who is a patron of the New Theatre Royal, performed without charge on Wednesday night so all proceeds could go towards the restoration.

Caroline Sharman, the theatre’s director, said: ‘Sandi is such a smart lady and she is very passionate, and it was a special night.

‘She’s a very busy woman so for her to do this show for us is amazing.

‘We are now in the process of taking down the stage.

‘The contractors are mobilising and will be coming onto the site soon.

‘It’s very exciting.’

While the theatre undergoes the major revamp, it will continue putting on shows and other events around the city.

There is another performance being held in the theatre this month, a show called The Trench.

Caroline added: ‘It’s rather aptly named because it will take place on ground level, where the stage used to be.’

The Trench was a hit at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival and will be performed in Portsmouth on March 21.

It uses puppetry, music by Alexander Wolfe and physical theatre to tell the story of a miner who becomes entombed in a tunnel during the First World War.

Other performances being put on by the New Theatre Royal include The Lost Hour on March 30.

The Lost Hour is a collection of family events held to mark the clocks going forward.

The theatre’s restoration project is being carried out in partnership with the University of Portsmouth, who will be able to use the new facilities.

For more information about the restoration or upcoming events, visit