LW Theatres donates auditorium seats to regional theatres as part of landmark Theatre Royal Drury Lane renovation project
From ghosts to regicide plots, WWII bombs to the birth of musical theatre, the hallowed halls of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane have almost seen it all. Now over 1000 of the theatre’s iconic auditorium seats will find new homes in three regional volunteer-run venues as part of its £45 million revival.
Out with the old and in with the new, Theatre Royal Drury Lane’s auditorium will be entirely re-modelled to improve sightlines and comfort, which includes brand new auditorium seating. Rather than letting the comfy golden seats still in good condition go to waste, LW Theatres chose to gift them to venues around the country in need of refurbished auditoriums.
The three chosen venues include New Mills Art Theatre, Derbyshire; The Olympus Theatre, Gloucester; and The Royal Court Theatre, Bacup.
CEO of LW Theatres Rebecca Kane Burton said: “LW Theatres is thrilled to recycle a much-loved piece of our history in a way that adds real value to regional theatres. We look forward to following the journey from Theatre Royal Drury Lane to their new life enjoyed by new audiences across the UK.”
Director of New Mills Art Theatre Beverley Eaves was thrilled at the news of the donation. “To say the 500 century-old seats that currently occupy our Derbyshire theatre are tired and uncomfortable is an understatement! Throughout our long history circa 1911, the Art Theatre has benefited from a wonderful outpouring of volunteer community support and in return we look forward to give back to our patrons and provide their ‘rears’ a sense of West End comfort,” she said.
Phil McCormick from the Gloucester Theatre Association will use 450 seats to begin piecing back together the Olympus Theatre in Gloucestershire. "Gloucester has a beautiful turn of the century theatre that has remained closed for 10 of the past 15 years and this gift is invaluable in our quest to save, fully restore and reopen Gloucester’s only remaining purpose-built theatre,” he said.
The Bacup Royal Court Theatre director Nick Daye said: "Our old theatre has been a hub for the local area for 130 years and is solely run by volunteers without local funding which has made it hard to do any major refurbishments. The 300 seats we can now replace are over 100 years old, some of them are beyond repair, which will add a much-needed face lift to the auditorium."
The oldest continuously operating theatre in the world has housed some of the most iconic moments in London’s West End over the theatre’s 355-year star studded history. Charles II famously first encountered Nell Gwynne at the theatre when she debuted in 1665, and the world’s biggest and best loved musicals have opened on its stage including Oklahoma! (1947) starring Howard Keel, Carousel (1950) with Mary Martin and My Fair Lady (1958-63) with Julie Andrews. The most haunted theatre in the world, a few (hundred) ghosts have no doubt taken comfort in the seats throughout the years when the lights go down.
Theatre Royal Drury Lane began its landmark 20 month-long £45 million renovation project today. LW Theatres will breathe new life into the unique and iconic architecture of their Grade 1 Regency building and restore the historic theatre - the longest continually running theatre in the world - to its former 1812 glory. Theatre Royal Drury Lane will re-open in September 2020 with a blockbuster show that is transferring from Broadway.