Curtain up on £2.5m Park Theatre in Finsbury Park

Park Theatre. Pic by Dieter Perry

Park Theatre. Pic by Dieter Perry - Credit: Archant

The opening night of a long-awaited £2.5million theatre saw the six-year vision of its mastermind come to glorious fruition last night.

Park Theatre. Pic by Dieter Perry

Park Theatre. Pic by Dieter Perry - Credit: Archant

The Park Theatre, Finsbury Park, officially opened its doors three years after artistic director Jez Bond bought the premises, and 18 months after builders began work.

Jez Bond

Jez Bond - Credit: Archant

Bang on time and bang on budget, the theatre, which has a 200-seater downstairs and a 90-seater upstairs auditorium, opened for the showing of These Shining Lives.

The project has also expanded into roof space on the third floor converted into an education centre for students to learn about script and drama.

Stars such as Maureen Lipman will perform, while famous actors Sir Ian McKellen, Jim Broadbent and Benedict Cumberbatch have all leant their backing.

Mr Bond, 35, says the vision is to create a community-focused hub with an international reputation for performance rivalling theatres in the West End.

He said: “The idea is to get a big sense of community spirit, of nurturing an audience and seeing the same faces coming day in, day out and building up trust with them.

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“I have strong ideas about how theatre should be run and how thay should relate to their communities. There is a huge opportunity to become a family-focused theatre, too.

“Rather different to institutional theatres, we created something warm and welcoming.

“It’s amazing here. It’s incredible. There is no local theatre and we have one of the highest collection of creatives in London locally.

“There are hundreds, thousands of people living in Islington who go to London for theatre because they can’t go local.

“What we’re trying to do is create an independent, local theatre with an international reputation, for simply putting on good plays done well.

“The interest in what is going on is already huge. People are saying, ‘why hasn’t this been done before? This is just what the area needs.’”

Plays will include contemporary drams – such as Richard Sheridan’s popular School for Scandal – addressing modern-day issues, alongside classic texts.

Mr Bond revealed how he had been searching for the perfect location to create his vision for about six years, which finally started three years ago when he bought the then dilapidated building in Clifton Terrace.

Tickets will range from £12 to £22.25 for performances. To book, call the box office on 020 7870 6876.