Even so, some commentators speculated that the move was the start of a full-scale reining in of his commercial ventures, so that he could concentrate fully on composing. Now Lloyd Webber has made good on his word, buying out his partners in his bigger theatres. He bought the group, now called Really Useful Theatres, from Stoll Moss five years ago with the aid of venture capitalists Bridgepoint, whose stake he has now acquired for an unknown sum. He has furthermore pledged ten million pounds to refurbish his eight theatres over five years (the RUT portfolio includes nine, but the Gielgud is scheduled to revert to Cameron Mackintosh’s ownership).
The Lloyd Webber theatres include some West End showpieces — such as the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, and the London Palladium. This new deal appears to solidify Lloyd Webber’s commitment to those houses, while he continues to head a wide-scale review of his sister business, the Really Useful Group.
At the same time, the refurbishment program — alongside Mackintosh’s own similar program in his own venues — demonstrates a personal commitment to the state of London theatres from two of its leading players. Both have supported calls for government investment in the West End’s crumbling theatres.