Andrew Lloyd Webber restores Drury Lane to its ‘original Georgian splendour’

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Theatre Royal, Drury Lane has completed a multi-million pound restoration to improve its rotunda, royal staircases and Grand Saloon in the year of its 350th anniversary.

The upgraded areas, which date back to 1812 when the current theatre at the site was built, have been refurbished to fit its Georgian style.

As part of the refurbishment, which has taken four months to complete and cost £4 million, statues in the Grand Saloon – a space used to host events including The Stage New Year Party – have been given bronzed finish.

Meanwhile, the central window in the Grand Saloon, which was previously bricked up, has been reinstated behind the bar, and a coffee room, which was formerly used as a kitchen, has been made available to the public.

The artworks on display on the staircases have also been fully restored and a new carpet has been laid.

There have been three other venues at the Theatre Royal site in the past, with the original being opened in 1663 by dramatist and theatre manager Thomas Killigrew.

A team led by architectural historian Edward Bulmer was commissioned to carry out the restoration in keeping with the Georgian style of the building.

Bulmer said: “The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane was the pre-eminent great theatre of its time and Lord Lloyd Webber was keen to re-create a sense of the neo-classical opulence of the period. Almost every part of the restoration has been informed by solid historical evidence.”

Andrew Lloyd Webber, who owns the Really Useful Group which manages the venue, said: “The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane is the most important theatre in Britain and I am proud to be the custodian of it. It contains the only working paint frame in London and its backstage area is of international historical significance. This is a two-part restoration of the building and we have begun with the reincarnation of the magnificent surviving Georgian public areas.

“After stripping away no less than nine layers of paint and some particularly hideous red wallpaper, forensic research revealed the original colour scheme; this has been used to transform the front of house areas to their original Georgian splendour.”

Sam Mendes’ production of Charlie and Chocolate Factory will open at the theatre next month.

 

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