ACE Hails £12.45m Young Vic as Best-Value RebuildDate: 12 October 2006
After eight years in the planning, two years under construction and £12.45 million in expense, the new Young Vic was inaugurated last night to a rapturous reception. The building’s first public performance – of the home-grown opera Tobias and the Angel, which was also the first production in the Young Vic’s Walkabout season during its two years away from home – was attended by journalists and members of the surrounding community, including local MP Simon Hughes.
Prior to the show, guests attended a champagne reception in the spacious, two-floor bar, where toasts were given by Arts Council England (ACE) chair Sir Christopher Frayling, Young Vic chair Patrick McKenna and artistic director David Lan (pictured with Frayling).
Frayling said the £5 million National Lottery grant contribution had been “money extremely well spent”. He hailed the new Young Vic, completed on time and on budget, as “the best value per square metre of any rebuild of the past ten years…. This has been a success story as a building project…. We’ve got a new cultural landmark in the capital.”
McKenna explained how, through the design by Haworth Tompkins architects, the team had succeeded in retaining “all the essential qualities of our previous much-loved building without the leaking roofs, portakabins and overcrowded everything”. According to McKenna, “we have managed not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.”
Both McKenna and Frayling praised David Lan, under whose leadership the Young Vic management team has remained intact despite being homeless for the past two years. Lan in turn thanked his team. “The whole point about the theatre more than any other art form is that you do it together with other people,” he said. He paid particular tribute to his executive director Kevin Fitzmaurice, as well as actor and patron of the Young Vic fundraising campaign Jude Law and the project’s chief architect Steve Tompkins (to whom “the real appreciation must go”). Lan echoed the sentiment of Law in a recent press interview by declaring that he is “prouder of having been part of this project than anything in my professional life”.
In addition to a dozen-strong professional cast, Tobias and the Angel - which has music by Jonathan Dove and a libretto by David Lan - is performed by a ensemble of 75 amateurs from the local community, ranging in age from eight to 75. At last night’s curtain call, the cast we recalled to the stage multiple times. Even after the house lights went up, the audience continued applauding until conductor David Charles Abell, Dove and, the man of the night, David Lan, were coaxed onto the stage to loud cheers.
Tobias and the Angel continues until 21 October 2006.
- by Terri Paddock