THE NEW THEATRE-ROYAL, ADELPHI.
The new Adelphi Theatre is to he opened on Boxing-night, and we are now able to give some particulars of the arrangement and construction of the building. We append a plan showing the "auditory" at the level of the grand tier, as well as the difference between the old house and the new one. The boundary of the site eastward in the old house, and the form of the auditory, are marked by dotted lines. First mentioning (to allow of comparison with theatres lately described) that the ground (exclusive of the Strand entrance and the saloons, and of the dressing-rooms for which old premises in Maiden-lane will be retained temporarily) now averages a length of about 107 feet by a breadth of about 69 feet, and that greater space in height has been gained by placing the pit floor at a lower level, instead of at the height of an ordinary story above the Strand as in the old house. We may go on to remark that the main alterations interesting in the question of theatre-planning, will be found to be those as to the width of the proscenium-opening in proportion to the "auditory;" the projection of the balcon, or stalls of the dress-circle, and the generally increased space—as appropriated mainly with reference to the comfort of the audience, to greater number of staircases of communication between the tiers, and to a gallery-staircase, with entrance from Bull-inn-court, in lieu of that which was reached from the entrance in the Strand. Width of proscenium-opening, and advancing the front of the lower-tier boxes, have been noted by us as comprising what might be a desirable approach to the principle of the ancient theatre, in regard to the object of a good view of the stage.
Looking at some of the London theatres which best admit of comparison, the relative proportions of the proscenium-opening to the "auditory," may be gathered from the statement as under:–
Whilst the width across the house, or between the boxes—44 feet in the case of the upper tiers of the Adelphi Theatre, that is to say, 5 feet 7 inches more than the Lyceum, and 11 feet 3 inches than the Olympic—as regards the grand tier, is considerably less in the Adelphi than the other buildings,—a difference of the greatest importance if our ideas have been correct. At the same time, whilst the pit is not sacrificed,—since it would appear from the plan engraved, not only that the whole area is greater than that in the old house, but that even a less proportion of the seats opposite the stage are beneath boxes,—the height of the grand tier above the stage is less than in the other case. For, taking the level which is that of the floor of the Queen's box (or the same as the lowest part of the balcon in the Adelphi Theatre), the dimensions are: In the Adelphi, 7 feet 9 inches; in the Olympic Theatre, 9 feet 1 inch; and in the Princess's, 8 feet 8 inches,—the Lyceum, having the dimension 6 feet 11 inches. To afford means of comparison in another particular affecting principle of plan, we may mention that the stage at the centre advances into the auditory, from the curtain line, at the Adelphi Theatre, 4 feet, whilst at the Olympic, 9 feet. In the Lyceum Theatre the dimension originally was three, or four, feet, but it is now 1 foot 9 inches. The alteration there is viewed as disadvantageous for operatic performances: whilst the 9 feet of the Olympic Theatre bring the "float" lights into an inconvenient position as regards the private-boxes.
The arrangement of the auditory of the Adelphi Theatre, it will have been understood, is not explained by the single plan given herewith. There are three tiers (two boxes; and one gallery) above the pit level; in other words, there are four floors, as in the boxes of the proscenium, which boxes will form very important features in the effect. The upper boxes and gallery are quite different from the lower boxes, both by the omission of the balcon, and by the form, on plan, of the box-fronts at the sides of the house. In place of a convexity next [to] the private boxes where a shaft is marked on our plan, there is a concavity formed by producing the segment from the semi-circle of the different line of fronts up to the same point on plan, or a little beyond, whence the curve continues in contrary flexure, forming to the private boxes segments, rather than the curves shown in the case of those boxes—marked F and GG. Considerable variety of effect results from this peculiarity added to the gracefulness of the lines themselves.
The depth of the stage from the back of the proscenium-wall is 55 feet, and the full width at the proscenium is 67 feet 6 inches, or [sic] inclusive of the property-rooms. The space in the front of the curtain measures 58 feet on the longitudinal axis of the plan, by a width of 68 feet 9 inches on the transverse axis of the "auditory." The proscenium wall is of 9-inch brickwork, with piers of 1 foot 10 inches, and a similar wall divides the private boxes from the main part of the auditory. The external walls are 1 foot 6 inches, all the way up— the roof being carried by iron stancheons from the ground, as mentioned in a former notice.
The box-fronts of the upper tier, with which the circle of the ceiling corresponds, are 44 feet 9 inches from the back of the proscenium-wall, measuring on the longitudinal axis of the plan; and between the box-fronts across the house is 44 feet, whilst on a parallel line, measuring from front to front of the private boxes, the width across is 35 feet 9 inches. The box-corridors, which are all floored with stone, and reached by staircases of stone or slate, are 4 feet 9 inches, or 5 feet in width, in the narrowest part in each case. The balcon projects 6 feet in advance of the iron columns supporting the tiers of boxes and the gallery. The gallery has no columns; the ceiling (hung from the roof) being from its design, [is] supposed not to require the idea of support provided for in the case of the boxes. There are two rows of seats in the balcon, and the remainder of the space is divided into fourteen boxes, which, from the arrangement of the divisions, may be treated as at once public and private boxes. The edges of the divisions ramp back to the ceiling from the line of fronts of those boxes, with a profile in curves of contrary flexure, or giving somewhat the form of an inverted bracket. This arrangement will contribute very greatly to the effect of the boxes viewed from one another and generally from the house; whilst the back seats are the same as those of private boxes in other theatres. Another innovation deserving of praise is that intended in the front of the balcon, which is to be of open-work of some kind, so that the ladies' dresses may show through; though whether it will be popular may be a question. The seats or stalls in the balcon are 1 foot 10 inches each between the centres of the divisions (two inches more than in the dress circles of the Lyceum and the Olympic) the space of each sitting in the other direction, or 3 feet, is greater by 9 inches than that at the Lyceum and by 6 inches than that at the Olympic, and the seats themselves are 1 foot 3 inches in depth as contrasted with the 11 inches of each of the other theatres. The backs slope 4½ inches instead of 2½ and 3 inches. The grand tier is calculated to hold (exclusive of the proscenium boxes) 128 persons—68 in the balcon and 60 in the boxes.
The upper circle of boxes is reached from the corridor of the lower circle. There are four staircases available for this communication, two of the number next the proscenium boxes, serving also for those boxes and the orchestra-stalls. The way down to the stalls, after an ascent from the Strand, was unavoidable, unless there had been an entrance contrived from Bull Inn-court. There are three rows of seats in the upper boxes—little different from the stalls below. They will seat 135 persons. In the gallery tier, there are two rows of stalls—for 92 persons (without separate access) and three rows of seats besides the short benches in the angles and the recess over the principal staircase and saloon. The ordinary seats on this tier are designed for 334 persons. The slight depth of the gallery allows of a flat ceiling, so that the defect of apparent suspension, if it do exist, cannot be said to be at all equal to what we noticed in a theatre at the east end of the town. The circular part, or ceiling over the pit, rises from a rim of ornamented mouldings, in slightly domical form and is divided into semicircular and other compartments, which will be decorated by Mr. Sang; and the lighting will be by a sun-burner in the centre, coming down, however, low enough to avoid disagreeable shadow.* The plasterers' work is in Parian cement; the decorations (of which we shall be better able to speak when the theatre opens), being on paper, to be pasted on. There will be the one saloon attached to the upper boxes, and a reading-room opening from the corridor of the dress boxes. The private boxes, it should have been mentioned, measure, in the clear, 14 feet; or that may be called the frontage to the auditory, and in depth, with their saloons and passages, they occupy about 16 feet. They will accommodate in all 80 persons. The character of these proscenium boxes is given by fluted shafts or columns, as shown in the plan, which occupy the height of the two chief tiers, and are carried on piers or pedestals, and by the light metal shafts which mark the divisions between the two boxes on plan, in the case of those of the upper box and gallery levels (the shaft in the latter instance bearing arches. The spandrils enriched with trellis-work), as well as by the ornament--which appears to be, generally in the house, of the Louis Quatorze or French Italian character, sometimes called French Renaissance in opposition to the Louis Quinze and the degenerate Rococo, more commonly, but erroneously, "Louis Quatorze." To these matters, however, we must return. One of the main shafts at each side carries the elliptical arch of the proscenium, and the other may support a statue.
The pit area will be divided into seats of three classes,— orchestra-stalls, pit-stalls, and ordinary seats. The orchestra-stalls, of which there are four rows, 3 feet from back to back of seats, are as under, in comparison with other theatres:—
They will accommodate 74 persons.
The other seats in the pit-floor are, we believe, 1 foot 8 inches from centre to centre of divisions. In the Olympic, they are 1 foot 6½ inches. The width of seat only is 11 inches as compared with 9½ inches in the Olympic and 8½ inches in the Lyceum: the distance of the seats from back to back is 2 feet 1 inch, the same as in the Olympic. They will hold 565 persons.
The whole house will accommodate 1,408 persons seated. There is a 5-feet exit-way from the pit into Bull-inn-court, with doors opening outwards. Above are similar fire-escape openings—as marked L on our plan. As to details of plan affecting some questions which have been taken up in our pages, we confine ourselves on the present occasion to simple description.
The entrances to the pit and boxes lead from the Strand corridor, the former below the loggia marked by B, the latter in a long flight, as shown at A. Judging from the drawings, the piers panelled with enamelled slate, the archivolts carried on trusses composed with figures of children, and the balustraded loggia, which will be occupied by ladies waiting for carriages, will form a very effective combination.
The dimensions of height necessary to complete our present account may be given from the datum level of the Strand pavement. The stage at the front is 5 inches above that level and the orchestra floor 3 feet 9 inches below it. The floor of the orchestra stalls may be taken at 3 feet below. The entrance corridor to the pit rises to 12 inches above the datum, or from the Strand, whence the floor descends by a slope of 1 foot 9 inches in 36 feet, to 2 feet 9 inches below the level, at the division from the stalls, which is about 19 feet from the front of the stage, the orchestra being 6 feet 6 inches of that distance. The stage rises to 1 foot 9 inches at the back, by a slope of 3/8 inch in 1 foot. The heights of the tiers of boxes, measuring to the floor line, which corresponds with the top of the lower series of mouldings of the box-fronts, are respectively 7 feet 9 inches to the grand tier, 11 feet 6 inches thence to the floor of the upper boxes, and 9 feet 6 inches to the gallery floor: whilst the private boxes on the gallery tier are 9 feet 6 inches in the clear height. The height to the rim of the ceiling over the pit is 44 feet 9 inches and that to the highest part 53 feet 9 inches. The Queen has a distinct entrance from Maiden-lane, passing above the stage, as shown by the letters N and M. Maiden-lane is considerably above the Strand level. Over M are the chief property rooms, in two floors, carried with the "fly" which projects from them, by a strong truss, formed with head and sill, struts and braces (12 by 9), and suspension-bolts, arranged as queen-post trussing along with diagonal bracing and inter-tie of similar scantling. The painting-room is opposite and is an ordinary "fly," with queen-post trussing. There is a stage entrance from Maiden-lane.
The building is remarkable, as we have before observed, for the application of iron in modes which are altering the structural character of this class of buildings: whilst decoratively, besides the right treatment of the material in the shafts, the use of riveted iron has readily allowed of that sinuosity of character, so to speak, which we have described in the plan, and which, in section, is equally shown in the girders bent to the forms of the boxes, sometimes in the reverse direction to that of strength, as it would have appeared on some data not of this age. The roof is of wrought iron, riveted in parts, and is carried by the stancheons, as already mentioned. There is a difference between the trusses over the auditory and the stage,—the rise of the dome of the ceiling in the former case being provided for. There are in all eight principals about 13 feet apart.
Mr. T. H. Wyatt is the architect; Mr. J. Willson is the builder, and Mr. Pasfield is the architect's clerk of the works.
We shall have another opportunity, when illustrating the appearance of the theatre, to say that we heartily wish Mr. Webster success in his new house.
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|Copyright © 1988, 1992, 2013 by Alfred L. Nelson, Gilbert B. Cross, Joseph Donohue.|
|Originally published by Greenwood Press as The Sans Pareil Theatre 1806-1819, Adelphi Theatre 1819-1850: An Index to Authors, Titles, Performers, 1988, and The Adelphi Theatre 1850-1900: An Index to Authors, Titles, Performers and Management, 1992.|
|The Adelphi Theatre Calendar revised, reconstructed and amplified. Copyright © 2013, by Alfred L. Nelson, Gilbert B. Cross, Joseph Donohue. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License, with the exception of graphics from The Clip Art Book, edited by Gerard Quinn and published by Crescent in 1990. These images are reproduced in accord with the publisher’s note, which states "The Clip Art Book is a new compilation of illustrations that are in the public domain. The individual illustrations are copyright free and may be reproduced without permission or payment. However, the selection of illustrations and their layout is the copyright of the publisher, so that one page or more may not be photocopied or reproduced without first contacting the publishers."|