Andrew has today announced that the New London Theatre is to be renamed in honour of the trailblazing choreographer Dame Gillian Lynne. The theatre will be formally recognized as the Gillian Lynne Theatre later this year and will be the first West End theatre to be named after a woman.
Dame Gillian has made an unprecedented contribution to the arts world; from classical ballet to featured dance performance in theatre, film and television. She has worked closely with Andrew on some of his most famous creations, and her work on the ground-breaking staging and choreography for Cats means she is widely recognized as the leading choreographer of her generation.
“I am delighted to be able to announce that the New London Theatre is to be renamed as the Gillian Lynne Theatre. Gillian has been a pioneer of British musical theatre and dance. Gillie’s groundbreaking work on Cats inspired and launched countless careers in dance. It is only fitting that the theatre in which she created Cats is named in her honour.”
Gillian Lynne said:
“The minute I heard Andrew’s music I fell in love with his ability to channel deep emotion into a single musical note. He continues to inspire generation after generation with his passion for musical theatre and Great Britain has benefitted enormously from his brilliance and his generosity.”
Over the course of her career, Gillian has directed more than sixty productions in the West End and Broadway as well as working on eleven feature films and hundreds of television productions as producer, director, choreographer or performer.
She has received numerous accolades including two Olivier Awards for Cats in 1981 and a Lifetime Achievement “Special” Olivier in 2013. She was honoured with a CBE in 1997 and made a Dame in 2014 for her services to Dance and Musical Theatre – the first woman to be honoured in this way.
The New London Theatre (which has been owned by Andrew Lloyd Webber since 1991) welcomes 450,000 people through its doors every year and is famous for being the home of the original production of Cats. Running from 11th May 1981 to 11th May 2002, this was the West End’s longest running show at the time and the production was a chance for the theatre to make use of its design – the show used all of the technology that the innovative building provided including the revolving auditorium. Cats truly broke new ground in creating an environmental space where the audience didn’t look at a set but were part of it, surrounded on all sides.
Subsequent shows have included Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s repertory productions of The Seagull and King Lear, the National Theatre’s production of War Horse and currently Andrew’s latest award-winning musical, School of Rock.
The modern theatre is built on the site of previous taverns and music hall theatres – and has been described as occupying “a hallowed, theatrically sacred place on Drury Lane” (Mark Shenton, The Stage) with a place of entertainment being located there since Elizabethan times. The theatre was designed by Paul Tvrtkovic and scenic designer Sean Kenny.