Theatre Royal Drury Lane has won The Stage award for Theatre Building of The Year.
In a first for this venue, we are thrilled to receive this accolade, a testament the dedication and hard work of our restoration teams over the past two years.
In July 2021, after 2 years, over 75,000 construction days, 10 acres of paint, several kilos of gold leaf, 265 tons of steelwork, 1 acre of carpet, 750km of cabling, 25km of trunking, £60million – and a global pandemic – we finally reopened our doors. Hosting every monarch since the Reformation, the opening of The Lane was officially marked by a visit from TRHs The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall.
A centrepiece of London history, ‘The Lane’ is now a world-class theatrical and performance space, as well as a new cultural destination, open for food and drink, in the heart of Covent Garden. For the first time in our history, the building is alive throughout the day, open to everyone, whether they are coming to a show or not.
There are many elements to Andrew and Madeleine Lloyd Webber’s 2-year restoration of The Lane, with architects Haworth Tompkins, Alexander Waterworth Interiors and Cameron Gardens. In the auditorium, over 250 seats have been removed to bring the performer and audience closer together. The stage, the largest in London, is one of the most flexible and versatile in the world. The backstage areas and orchestra pit are state-of-the-art, and the auditorium can be broken down to build a thrust stage or facilitate performances in the round.
Abbey Road sound engineers, recording Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Symphonic Suites album, recently said: "The sound captured is akin to a world-class recording venue. In our collective 70-year experience of recording in venues the world over, we have never heard such a majestic sound stage.”
Outside the auditorium, the magnificent 1812 Greek Revival Front of House, designed by Benjamin Wyatt, has been returned to its former splendour. These are now said to be some of the finest Regency rooms in London. As The Times recently said, “It is the detail that is (one of the things) that is so extraordinary about the Drury Lane refurbishment”. In Georgian style, exquisite art is also on display throughout the theatre, showcasing a breadth of work from established and emerging artists. Our famous theatre tours have been reinstated to sell-out success.
Disney’s much anticipated new musical, Frozen, opened in August 2021 to rave reviews. In our new iteration, The Lane has also hosted sell-out evenings with Dan Levy, Joan Collins, Joanna Lumley and many others. Since opening in July 2021, it is estimated that 250,000 have come through the doors.
Yet, The Lane is now about even more than live performances. Our beloved building is now open all day for anyone to visit. In keeping with the legacy of My Fair Lady, a range of young and inspiring talents, the “Bright Young Things”, have helped curate this new era for The Lane. Charles Jeffery has redesigned the theatre’s iconic Red Coats and the award-winning cocktail expert Tristan Stephenson has created a custom cocktail menu for the Cecil Beaton Bar. The pinnacle is the Grand Saloon, now serving an Afternoon Tea designed by baker to the stars, Lily Vanilli, on crockery inspired by our building’s history and designed by Kit Kemp. New retail spaces also serve customers throughout the day, and during performances.
Theatre Royal Drury Lane is the oldest theatre site in continuous use in the world. Since the 17th century, innovation and activity in our theatre has had a profound, long-lasting impact on theatrical practice all over the world. In 2021, after a period that shook the very foundation of the industry which it has showcased for 350 years, we are proud to stand for the revival of a new, better, and stronger theatre industry. As the FT recently said, “It is a statement of marble pillars and stone floors, a rebuttal to those who see the West End as synonymous with cramped seats and collapsing ceilings. Although conceived well before the pandemic, it could become a Phoenix-like symbol of theatreland’s rebirth.”