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First look: Theatre Royal Drury Lane reopens following £60 million refurbishment

Hira Desai

By Hira Desai First Published 27 July 2021, Last Updated 27 July 2021

The West End’s oldest theatre, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, is back open after an ambitious two-year-long restoration project and the transformation is truly showstopping!

Just check out this stunning image of the auditorium which has had a huge makeover…

The Auditorium, Theatre Royal Drury Lane (Photo credit: Philip Vile)

The historical venue, which is affectionately known as The Lane, has, for more than 350 years, hosted iconic premieres and showstopping premieres including Oklahoma!, My Fair Lady, 42nd Street and Miss Saigon. It’s also seen an enormous list of performers which are considered theatre royalty.

While the iconic venue stays true to it’s historical roots, the venue is not one to shy away from innovation. After the final performance of 42nd street on 5 January 2019, the curtains were drawn and the builders rolled in to begin project restoration…

A view of the stage during restoration, Theatre Royal Drury Lane (Photo credit: Andy Paradise)

The main aim of the project, led by award-winning architect Steve Tompkins, was not only retain the original features of the building but to also provide contemporary front-of-house facilities so that the building can be enjoyed by everyone and not only those attending a show.

Workman painting ceiling, Theatre Royal Drury Lane (Photo credit: Philip Vile)

In order to create wider seats and more legroom, the audience capacity has been reduced by around 250 seats, but this promises better sight lines. The auditorium itself has been reshaped to create a tighter curve which will allow audiences to feel closer to the performers.

Auditorium, Theatre Royal Drury Lane (Photo credit: Philip Vile)

Making the venue as accessible as possible was also key in the project. Improvements include; a new street level entrance, ramps to the stalls, a total of 20 wheelchair spaces on three levels, 5 new accessible WCs and a 16-person passenger lift catering to all floors of the theatre. Additionally, 20 female cubicles have been installed to curb bathroom waiting times – a major win!

The auditorium during restoration, Theatre Royal Drury Lane (Photo credit: Andy Paradise)

Two years and £60 million later, Andrew Lloyd Webber has reopened the venue which has been restored to its former 1812 glory. The theatre opens with four brand new food and drink areas which can be enjoyed any time of the day, even if you do not have a ticket to see a show.

Take a trip to The Lane where you can enjoy some all-day dining at The Garden. Start your morning with coffees and pastries or enjoy a date night with cheese and wine in the evening.

The Garden, Theatre Royal Drury Lane (Photo credit: Andy Paradise)

And, if it’s a special occasion or you fancy a treat, you can look forward to a Regency-inspired tea coming soon to the Grand Saloon later in the year.

The Grand Saloon, Theatre Royal Drury Lane. (Photo credit: Andy Paradise)

If you want to enjoy some pre-show drinks, you can sip some bubbly under the magnificent ceiling at The Rotunda Bar, inspired by the Pantheon in Rome. 

The Rotunda Bar, Theatre Royal Drury Lane (Photo credit: Andy Paradise)

Alternatively, you can take a seat at the Cecil Beaton, a cute cocktail bar named after the photographer and costume designer. Here, you will find each drink inspired by Beaton’s work with the menu featuring the likes of the Beautiful Wasp (rum, pineapple, tonka, saffron & coconut sugar), the Eliza Doolittle (gin, white port, creme de violet, lemon juice & soda) and the Peter Pan (Everleaf Forest, mint, apple & tonic water). As if the cocktails didn’t sound delicious enough, the names are sealing the deal for us!

Cecil Beaton, Theatre Royal Drury Lane (Photo credit: Andy Paradise)

If the above has got you feeling inspired to see a show at the iconic theatre, we’re here to remind you that Disney’s cult phenomenon, Frozen will be opening at the stunning theatre from 27 August and we simply cannot wait.

Whether you’re looking to see a show in the near future or would like to experience the gorgeous new space and enjoy some food and drink, head over to Theatre Royal Drury Lane, located in the buzzy Covent Garden in Theatreland.


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