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Really Useful Theatres to show live-scored films on Sunday nights

Theatre Royal, Drury Lane auditorium from the royal box. Photo: Peter Dazeley Theatre Royal, Drury Lane auditorium from the royal box. Photo: Peter Dazeley
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Really Useful Theatres is opening up its biggest West End venues on Sunday nights to accommodate what it sees as a growing appetite for live-scored film screenings.

Films including La La Land and The Wizard of Oz will be screened alongside a live orchestra in the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and the London Palladium respectively, as part of a programme of events for Sunday nights, which are traditionally dark for theatres.

RUT’s head of programming, Dave Gaydon, said the operator’s smaller theatres were often used outside scheduled performance times for stage school showcases or concerts, however the larger venues’ sizes restricts the type of events that are viable.

Drury Lane, currently home to 42nd Street, and the Palladium both have capacities of more than 2,000, however Gaydon told The Stage that screening films accompanied by live music was an increasingly popular market.

“There’s definitely an appetite at the moment for more interesting ways of watching films, things like Secret Cinema and screenings in unusual places, those sorts of things are very attractive,” he said.

Live-scored films are becoming more commonplace in large venues, with the Royal Albert Hall hosting a regular line-up of screenings that includes the Harry Potter film franchise, Jurassic Park and Titanic.

“If you can do something in a very beautiful theatre, with great acoustics and great sight lines, it’s a really good experience. It’s not something we are consciously doing loads more of but we know there’s a market for it, and the ones we’ve done so far have done very well,” Gaydon said.

Drury Lane recently hosted two live-scored performances of Love Actually earlier this month, both of which sold out.

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The Palladium has more of a mixed programme than other Really Useful venues meaning there is more flexibility said Gaydon, however he added because live-scored films only require “relatively straightforward” alterations to a resident production such as 42nd Street, they are also a possibility in a venue like the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

He stressed the programmed films would be carefully chosen and only those with scores of “cultural or artistic relevance” would be selected.

La La Land and The Wizard of Oz will be performed with a 60-piece orchestra on May 27 and April 13 respectively.