By Andrew Gans
11 Apr 2012
In 2005 Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Theatres sold four of his playhouses, the Lyric, Apollo, Garrick and Duchess theatres, to Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer, who formed Nimax Theatres Limited, adding the Vaudeville Theatre in 2008. Burns and Weitzenhoffer are now also the owners of the Palace Theatre.
In a lengthy statement Andrew Lloyd Webber said, "I am selling The Palace Theatre because I love it. I feel that it's been my home for nearly forty years. Jesus Christ Superstar began its record breaking run there in August 1972 and I bought the theatre in 1983. I wrote big chunks of Phantom in my upstairs office there. During the time I owned this Victorian dream, I removed the huge neon sign that defaced the glorious terracotta exterior, much to the chagrin of West End producers who told me I had removed the greatest theatre advertising sight in London. I argued that the restored facade would speak for itself. It didn't hurt the staggering run of Les Misérables. I am proud that under my ownership the auditorium has been restored, the magnificent front of house that had been covered with army surplus paint was removed to reveal acres of Italian marble and the theatre that John Betjeman described as 'the only theatre architecture ... which climbs into the regions of a work of art' was brought back to its former glory.
"So why am I selling it? First, and most importantly, I want to see a secure theatrical future for the Palace as I do the other historic theatres that I own through Really Useful Theatres. I can think of no better future custodians of Britain's finest Victorian theatre than my friends Nica and Max. Secondly, the proceeds of the sale will be used to repay debt and to strengthen the balance sheet of Really Useful Theatres. This will allow me to plan the future of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and continue work on refurbishing The London Palladium. Lastly, Nica and Max are completely aware of my passion for The Palace and we have agreed that if there is a major theatrical reworking of the building, I will partner them. Good luck Nica and Max. I hope the Palace is as good for you as it has been for me."