One of the highlights of 2015 was working with New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth to manage their marketing and PR prior to the re-opening in October.
Operating as a theatre since 1856 under the control of former travelling circus owner Henry Rutley, the Guildhall Walk venue has enjoyed a long and fascinating history. Despite many attempts of closure and demolition the theatre has shown true resilience, surviving fire and war to remain a cultural landmark in the heart of Portsmouth.
One of the very few remaining C. J. Phipps/Frank Matcham working theatres in the UK and Eire still in operation, the Grade II* listed Victorian building has continually evolved to embrace changing cultural trends, accommodating the era of film, variety performance and even live wrestling in the early 1960s. Many colourful characters have walked the boards at the theatre including Ellen Terry, Sarah Bernhardt, Henry Irving and Twiggy, who launched her film career in Ken Russell’s critically acclaimed musical film, The Boy Friend, which was filmed there.
Now, nearly 160 years since it first opened, the theatre has gone through its latest restoration to return it to its former glory while bringing it into the 21st century. The £4.5m re-development has been used to repair the stage and fly-tower, build new dressing rooms and learning spaces, and improve accessibility to the theatre. In addition, the rebuild brings a brand new studio space, a legacy to the great educator and filmmaker Antony Minghella CBE, who studied in Portsmouth and went on to have a 30-year career as a director, producer and actor.
Following many years of hard work and unwavering help from loyal supporters, the curtain was raised for the first time in four years on the 15th October with The Great Gatsby and we were delighted to play a part in getting them to this point in their journey.
Our main objective was to engage with local communities and audiences to make them aware of what was happening at New Theatre Royal and make them feel part of the theatre’s future. The theatre had been closed for many years previously with various attempts to re-open so it took careful planning and some strategic marketing campaigns to build up a relationship with not only audiences and communities but also the press. Our remit covered everything from PR, advertising and digital marketing to social media, partnership marketing and website management. Working closely with the fantastic team at New Theatre Royal as well as their many partners, we have successfully helped the theatre re-launch as one of Portsmouth’s most popular visitor destinations and one that is unique amongst the city’s cultural attractions.
We look forward to continuing to work with the team and supporting their fabulous new Marketing Manager in their first full year of opening.