Cameron Mackintosh Plans New West End Theatre

News   Cameron Mackintosh Plans New West End Theatre
Sir Cameron Mackintosh has exciting new plans for Shaftesbury Avenue.

Mackintosh has announced an interest in creating a new theatre space— literally filling a gap between the Gielgud and the Queen's Theatres. Both these playhouses are currently part of the Really Useful Theatre group owned by Andrew Lloyd Webber, but Mackintosh owns the freehold and the leases are due to expire soon, leaving him in charge of a sizeable chunk of Shaftesbury Avenue. He also owns the building that currently separates them.

Talking to the Sunday Times this weekend, Mackintosh said that he envisages a 500-seat theatre which will be able to take transfers from smaller but prestigious playhouses like the Donmar and the Almeida. If he gets planning permission from Westminster Council, then he will be able to go ahead with the project, which will provide a very useful addition to the West End's theatre stock.

Ironically, given the number of theatres in central London (only New York has a comparable amount of theatre buildings), there is actually a shortage of theatre space. Only the Arts currently provides a stepping stone, in terms of size and location, between the Fringe (especially The King's Head, Islington and Jermyn Street Theatre) and the West End.

At the other end of the scale, there continues to be a shortage of large musical houses: The Producers is still waiting for a home — rumored to be the Prince Edward, if Mamma Mia! does indeed move to the Prince of Wales next year, after Mackintosh has refurbished it. The Sound of Music's arrival in the West End was also put on ice because of a lack of an available theatre.

Alongside the creation of this new theatre space will go the restoration of both the Gielgud and, more radically, the Queen's.

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