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£45m Theatre Royal Drury Lane refurbishment to create flexible auditorium

Theatre Royal, Drury Lane auditorium from the royal box. Photo: Peter Dazeley Theatre Royal Drury Lane auditorium: after the refurbishment, producers will be able to choose a proscenium arch or in-the-round configuration. Photo: Peter Dazeley
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Andrew Lloyd Webber has revealed further details of the £45 million refurbishment of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, including plans to make the auditorium a flexible space.

Producers will be able to choose between a proscenium arch or in-the-round configuration, and capacity will be reduced from 2,200 to 2,000.

In addition, front-of-house facilities will be open to the public all day, which owner LW Theatres hopes will make Theatre Royal Drury Lane a “destination venue in its own right”.

The final performance of musical 42nd Street took place on January 5, and the grade I-listed venue has gone dark for 20 months. It will reopen in September 2020 with a “blockbuster” show that is transferring from Broadway.

A new restaurant will be built as part of the restoration, and access improvements include a new street level entrance, ramps to the stalls, five new accessible toilets and a 16-person lift to all levels of the theatre.

In a bid to curb bathroom waiting times for women, 20 additional cubicles will be installed, bringing the total number of female toilets to 55.

The £45 million project is entirely funded by LW theatres and led by architect firm Haworth Tompkins. Steve Tompkins was listed at number one on The Stage 100 2019.

Andrew Lloyd Webber said: “The auditorium will be completely reconfigured into a comfortable and more intimate space. Producers will have the choice of a traditional proscenium arch or in-the-round configuration. We’re reducing the audience capacity by 200 to create wider seats, more legroom and better sight lines. The auditorium will also be reshaped to create a tighter curve, bringing the performer and audience closer together.”

Chief executive of of LW Theatres Rebecca Kane Burton added: “We’re going beyond theatre by creating an engaging, inspiring and comfortable space where people can spend quality time with friends, colleagues and loved ones, whether that be catching up over coffee, unwinding with a glass of wine, or enjoying a relaxing dinner.”

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