tower_bridge_londonA site at London’s Tower Bridge that’s been earmarked for a cultural venue of national importance for more than 20 years has finally found an occupant. The History Boys and One Man, Two Guvnors director Nicholas Hytner and longtime collaborator Nick Starr’s London Theatre Company is due to take up residence in what will be the city’s largest commercial theater outside of the West End at the One Tower Bridge development. The planned 900-seat venue is expected to open in 2017.

Hytner, whose feature credits include The Crucible and the upcoming The Lady In The Van with Maggie Smith, left the National Theatre in April, after 12 years as its artistic director. While there, he was instrumental in building NT Live which put on such shows broadcast to cinemas as Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein starring current West End darling Benedict Cumberbatch. Starr was also at the NT for a dozen years before leaving in late 2014. Toegether, they recently launched the London Theatre Company.

The south London riverside hub is designed to be a cultural destination with shops and restaurants. It was originally meant to house the Royal Opera House during renovation of its Covent Garden home and for the past 10 years has been eyeing potential tenants. London mayor, and former Late Show With David Letterman guest, Boris Johnson calls London “the cultural capital of the world.” Johnson said today, “Bringing two of the most respected names in British theater to this part of south London is fantastic news. Their well-deserved reputation and The London Theatre Company’s location will ensure it becomes a magnet for theatergoers and other culture lovers.”

Hytner and Starr noted the lack of new theaters of scale amid Victorian and Edwardian edifices in the West End. “It feels like the time is right for a new theater that answers the needs of contemporary theater-makers and audiences, and which will be the home to our new independent producing company… We’ve been looking for the kind of space, in the kind of location that could galvanize playwrights, directors and actors.”