Now in their second century of continous operation as public buildings, four venues will require temporary closure for several months to ensure the historic buildings will last another 100 years. The renovations will include preserving the venues’ fine plaster work, strengthening and extending the life of their ceilings, and completing the restoration of their auditoriums.
Queen’s Theatre, which has played host to the world’s longest-running musical Les Misérables since 2004, is scheduled for works in 2019/20. The venue requires a major backstage renovation, and has had little refurbishment since reopening in 1959 following heavy World War II bomb damage.
Plans are being finalised to ensure the hugely successful show, which in its 33rd year still regularly plays to 95% capacity, continues its West End run at an alternative venue. These will be announced in due course.
Some theatres will not require immediate closure. Over half of the necessary work has already been completed at the Novello Theatre (home to Mamma Mia! since 2012), and the remainder be achieved without any loss of performances. Having already undergone major reconstruction in the last 15 years, the Prince of Wales (The Book Of Mormon) and the Prince Edward Theatres (Disney’s Aladdin) do not require immediate works.
Owner Cameron Mackintosh said, “Having just completed the hugely rewarding but very expensive restoration of the Victoria Palace [reopened in December by Hamilton], news of the timing of these works, which are necessary to ensure that my other theatres will be in tip top condition for actors, producers and audiences, long after the final curtain has dropped on me, was not the most welcome. There are major financial consequences, not just the considerable cost of the capital works, but the knock on costs of closing these theatres for several months will run into many millions of pounds.
“However, I love these buildings and luckily my success as a Producer has given me the resources to preserve their life for another 100 years – so that the show can go on and on and on!”