Les Miserables’ West End home is to more than double its toilet capacity, after it emerged that audience members are missing up to 10 minutes of Act II because of queuing at the interval.
Planning permission has been granted to allow Cameron Mackintosh, owner of the Queen’s Theatre, to install up to 33 additional toilets in the venue. It currently has 24.
A spokesman for the company said it hoped to build 33 new cubicles, but that a minimum of 12 would be introduced. The main aim of the plan is to provide more toilets for female patrons. They will be created by developing a light well in the theatre that does not currently have a function. Using the space, the theatre will be able to add toilets at every level, including the stalls and dress circle.
According to the planning documents, the proposed designs will alleviate the current situation of visitors needing to queue for toilets “for up to 10 minutes into the second act of the play”.
Some of the additional toilets would be “super loos” – with a hand basin inside the cubicles, allowing customers to wash their hands before leaving them. This, the application states, means “congestion within the lobby is mitigated”.
The document states that there is a need to “serve the patrons of the Queen’s Theatre”.
“The three areas of additional toilet provision make the best use of unused or unkempt internal and external spaces, that meet this need,” it says, adding: “The proposals breathe new life into otherwise idle or worn spaces of the theatre.”
The plans have been welcomed by the Theatres Trust, which said: “Takings during intervals are critical for the overall sustainability and viability of theatres, as is the need for audiences to have a positive theatre experience. Therefore, we support efforts to resolve such known challenges. More generally we welcome efforts by theatre owners and operators to improve their buildings and facilities.”
Earlier this year, Mackintosh announced plans to close the theatre for refurbishment, with details yet to be revealed.