Fairfield Halls’ new boss has said he wants the relaunched venue to become Croydon’s answer to the Southbank Centre, as it prepares to open its doors for the first time in three years.

Venue director Neil Chandler has said he aspires for the south London arts venue to match it in the breadth of work presented, as well as become a “local powerhouse for quality theatre”.

Dame Judi Dench (pictured right) will formally reopen the Ashcroft Playhouse, previously known as the Ashcroft Theatre, on September 16 

Dame Judi will take part in a question and answer session which will kick off a week-long series of events celebrating the reopening of Fairfield Halls after a revamp costing more than £40 million.

The Park Lane venue closed to the public back in July 2016 and the  council-led redevelopment has attracted considerable controversy – it has exceeded its original budget by £11 million and construction overrun by a year.

The new look Fairfield Halls comprises of a 809-seat theatre, 1,802-seat concert hall, studios for both resident companies, a new live music venue and a revamped foyer.

The newly announced reopening programme is impressive and will include stage adaptations of Sarah Waters’ The Night Watch and The Lady Vanishes, the UK premiere of Angela’s Ashes – The Musical and Once, which opens its first tour there in December.

Its pantomime will star Ore Oduba and Tim Vine, and Fairfield Halls will also become home to Talawa Theatre Company, and inclusive company Savvy.

The opening programme also includes performances from the London Mozart Players (pictured above), the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Dance Umbrella, with comedy from Sandi Toksvig, Lenny Henry and Jimmy Carr.

A full programme of free events are planned for the foyer;  a series of lunchtime concerts, “audience with…” interviews including Ian Dale of LBC, Janet Street Porter, John Snow and Jenni Murray in the first season. Plus concerts and professional exhibitions including Windrush by Jim Grover.