1. £4m restoration unveiled!

14th, May, 2013

£4m restoration unveiled!

On the 350th anniversary of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, Lord Lloyd Webber and The Really Useful Theatres Group are delighted to announce the stunning restoration of the Rotunda, Royal Staircases and Grand Saloon.

Visitors to the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane will also be able to view the beauty of the world-famous statue, The Three Graces, a copy of which was bought at Christie’s by Lord Lloyd Webber for £600,000 in March this year, especially for the theatre. The exquisite marble sculpture representing the three phases of love will be permanently displayed in the Lower Rotunda.

Lord Lloyd Webber said: “The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane is one of the most important theatres 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 Regency 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 Regency splendour.”“I bought The Three Graces for the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, so that audiences can have the pleasure of seeing one of the world’s most alluring sculptures in such magnificent surroundings. I do not personally take any income from the theatres every penny of any profit they make goes back into maintaining and restoring the buildings. My earliest passion was for architecture and my love for it has never dimmed, I am overjoyed that this work has taken place during my custodianship of this historic theatre. I am a firm believer in the importance of preserving Britain’s architectural heritage for current and future generations to enjoy.”                                                                                                                                                                     

There have been four theatre buildings on the Drury Lane site since 1653. The current building, designed by Benjamin Dean Wyatt, dates from 1812 and the royal staircases, Rotunda and Grand Saloon are unique examples of early nineteenth-century architecture.

Grand Saloon

Rotunda

Rotunda

The specialist team commissioned by Lord Lloyd Webber to undertake the restoration included architectural historian, Edward Bulmer.

Edward 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.”

All statues and pictures which were part of the original decorative scheme have been cleaned and restored revealing details not seen for years.  The central window in the Grand Saloon, bricked up for many years, now lets in the daylight and the south coffee room, which had suffered the indignity of being turned into a kitchen, is once again a public room. The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane has been visited by every reigning monarch since it opened, is the only theatre with two Royal Boxes and was where the public first heard both the National Anthem and “Rule Britannia”.

Audiences arriving with golden tickets to see director Sam Mendes’ production of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (previewing from Wednesday 22nd May) will be the first to enjoy the newly-restored theatre.