Waley-Cohen buys West End venue New Ambassadors Theatre
Stephen Waley-Cohen has finalised his purchase of West End venue the New Ambassadors Theatre from Ambassador Theatre Group.
As revealed earlier this year by The Stage, he has been in talks with ATG for the past few months, and the pair have now confirmed that he has taken over the 403-seat theatre, which will be renamed the Ambassadors. Waley-Cohen already runs the neighbouring St Martin’s Theatre and Victoria Palace, and has previously managed the Savoy and Vaudeville theatres. He is also a former president of the Society of London Theatre.
ATG joint chief executive Rosemary Squire, the current SOLT president, commented: “We are delighted that this wonderful West End venue is in Sir Stephen’s hands – one of the most reputable and successful men in the theatre industry today. We hadn’t planned to sell the venue, but the offer made good commercial sense at a time that coincides with our overseas expansion and the launch of our New York office.”
The venue has, until recently, been home to ATG subsidiary Sonia Friedman Productions and had a programme with a strong focus on new plays. However, the sale has sparked speculation that Waley-Cohen might decide to transfer the world’s longest running play, The Mousetrap, from the St Martin’s to the smaller Ambassadors, which was the production’s original home from 1952, though Waley-Cohen insisted that he had no plans to do so at the moment.
He said: “I have no imminent plans to transfer The Mousetrap, but never say never. My policy for the Ambassadors will be as it has always been in all my venues. I want hits. But some of them will be new plays.”
As part of the deal, the majority of the staff will be retained at the theatre by the new management. The rest will remain employees of ATG and will work at the company’s other West End venues.