YEOVIL’S Octagon Theatre, which has provided the launchpad for many professional careers in theatre, music and dance, as well as bringing a huge variety of performances to audiences across the region, will be enlarged and improved in a £23m expansion, approved in principle by South Somerset District Councillors.
The scheme includes a new circle of seats, taking the capacity of the main auditorium to 900, as well as a fly tower, a dedicated dance studio and improvements to accessibility throughout the building, which is still known by older Yeovilians as the Johnson Hall.
The last major refurbishment was in 1988 and in recent years the Octagon has been unable to accommodate sufficient audience members to attract the bigger tours.
SSDC will look to Arts Council England and other bodies to raise the money needed for the refurbishment, which would allow the Octagon to become Somerset’s biggest theatre, on a par with Bath’s Theatre Royal, which also has 900 seats.
“There has been a clear need to refurbish the building for many years and work on these plans started long before the pandemic,” said Adam Burgan, arts and entertainment venues manager at Somerset District Council.
More details of the scheme will be announced and audiences are assured that when construction work begins, productions will move to the Westlands Entertainment Venue.