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Planning Permission secured for new theatre to house music theatre production Soldier of Orange in London

New Venue to be named Royal Docks Theatre

Planning permission has been granted by Newham Council for a 1.150 seat theatre to be built in London’s Royal Docks.  The new venue, named Royal Docks Theatre, is to be the purpose-built home for the acclaimed historical Dutch theatre experience music theatre production Soldier of Orange which is coming to London for the first time. Situated within the heart of the history and one of London’s heaviest bombed areas during The Blitz, the WWII theatrical experience will be at the centre of the Royal Dock’s regeneration.

The planning permission granted was for a temporary 1.150 seat theatre for 5 years plus a restaurant meaning the creation of up to 150 new jobs across construction, hospitality and for the production itself.

Music theatre production Soldier of Orange is based on the autobiography of Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema, a renowned Dutch resistance fighter and British RAF war pilot, who chronicled his remarkable WWII experiences in his book of the same name.

Soldier of Orange’s pioneering use of 360-degree ‘SceneAround’ staging – a revolutionary theatre technology especially engineered for this production and to be used in the UK for the first time – pulls the audience directly into Erik’s story, delivering a unique theatrical experience.

As the story unfolds, the entire seating platform with 1.150 seats rotates along a 360-degree panoramic set, by turns revealing an actual 150-foot-wide coastline with sea, sand and rainstorms, student dorms, interrogation cells, a palace and a real DC3 Dakota Airplane.

Music theatre production Soldier of Orange is produced by NEW Productions. Producer Fred Boot of NEW Productions commented:“London was the location of our Queen in exile during the war. The UK plays a significant role in our history and this WWII story. Therefore, the UK has always had our priority and we are very pleased with this development for such a relevant location. The production and script are slightly adapted for an international audience, to ensure that it reflects the show as it has been embraced in Holland. We are looking forward to sharing this universal story of a group of friends, forced by war to make life-changing choices. It is a celebration of the time that the Allies came together to fight for our freedom and democracy.”

Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz, who is also the portfolio lead on inclusive economy, housing delivery, regeneration and planning, said: “It’s a real privilege to welcome this world class production to Newham and to London. It’s an exciting addition to our new plans for a dynamic and vibrant cultural offer in our borough and highlights our commitment to offer residents access to a rich, diverse and creative range of events and activities in Newham. It’s also a fantastic example of how an unused site can be transformed through meanwhile temporary uses.

The Royal Docks is fast becoming a vibrant new cultural quarter in London, complimenting the exciting programme of creativity, art and academic excellence emerging in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park through the East Bank project. All of this will support our innovative community wealth building and inclusive economy agendas where all our residents benefit from the opportunities accelerating in Newham.”

Strategic Development Committee chair Councillor Daniel Blaney said: “This has the potential to attract thousands of visitors to the Royal Docks each year and reconnect them with one of London’s most historic landscapes.”

Music theatre production Soldier of Orange has been seen by over 3 million people in Holland, has broken all Dutch theatre records and celebrated nine years of sold-out shows. Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema’s book was also adapted for a Dutch international hit film in 1977 directed by Paul Verhoeven (Basic Instinct, RoboCop, Total Recall, Elle), nominated for a Golden Globe and starred the late Rutger Hauer in the title role.

The UK production will be directed by renowned Dutch director Theu Boermans. The book is written by Edwin de Vries, with music and lyrics written by Americans Tom Harriman and Pamela Phillips Oland and set design by Bernhard Hammer. This first English production is adapted for the British stage by Jeremy Brock. The Associate producer is Mark de Kruijk.