Renamed in May 2018, the Gillian Lynne Theatre pays homage to a legendary choreographer and dancer – the first woman to have a West End theatre named after her.
Formerly known as the New London Theatre, being one of London’s newest major theatres with an opening date of 1973, Andrew Lloyd Webber announced the honour at the launch of his memoir in 2018, stating: “Gillian has been a pioneer of British musical theatre and dance. Gillie’s groundbreaking work on Cats inspired and launched countless careers in dance. It is only fitting that the theatre in which she created Cats is named in her honour.”
A two-time Olivier Award-winner, Lynne was made a Dame in 2014 for services to dance and musical theatre, and enjoyed a long and esteemed career, working with Lloyd Webber on shows including Cats, The Phantom Of The Opera and Joseph And The Technicolour Dreamcoat.
The Gillian Lynne Theatre site is steeped in theatrical heritage, as there has been a theatre of some sort on this site since Elizabethan times. The Theatre was partly designed by Sean Kenny, who was a scenic designer on the musicals Blitz!, Oliver! and Pickwick. It is probably most famous for hosting the the long run of Lloyd Webber’s Cats, from 1981 to 2002.
Between 1977 and 80 the auditorium of the Gillian Lynne was used very successfully as a television studio, including early broadcasts of championship snooker and broadcasts of This Is Your Life. The whole building was also occasionally put to use as a conference centre as had been intended in the building’s revolutionary design.
In 1991 the building was purchased by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group and, in turn, the year 2000 saw it become part of Really Useful Theatres. The building currently hosts the Olivier Award-winning show School Of Rock – The Musical.