Today, Andrew and Madeleine Lloyd Webber mark the unveiling of the iconic Theatre Royal Drury Lane, affectionately known as The Lane, following a two-year, £60m restoration.
The world-class theatrical and performance space has been entirely restored with the addition of exciting new food and drink spaces which will make this an entertainment and cultural destination alive throughout the day. From today, Friday 23 July, the ground floor of The Lane’s 5-star offering will be open.
Theatre Royal Drury Lane is the oldest theatre site in continuous use in the world. Since the 17th century, activity at the theatre has had a profound, long-lasting impact on theatrical practice all over the world.
The restoration celebrates the building’s long history and cultural legacy, including the Front of House and opulent staircases, designed by Benjamin Dean Wyatt, and the world-famous auditorium, which has been totally refashioned to bring the performer and audience closer together.
Acquiring Theatre Royal Drury Lane in 2000 enabled Andrew Lloyd Webber to combine his love of musical theatre with a deep interest in architecture in 2019. Alongside his wife Madeleine, this ambitious project sought to bring to life the building’s history, creating a space that will see the building busy throughout the day, for those coming to a show and those not.
From casual and contemporary, to formal and theatrical, each of The Lane’s spaces has its own charm: the spacious and regal Grand Saloon (pictured); the relaxing, all-day dining area The Garden, serving cocktails, coffee, and light bites; a cocktail bar, inspired and named after high society photographer and theatre costume designer Cecil Beaton and finally, the Rotunda Bar where champagne will flow and elegant Georgian architecture shines.
The Garden offers a seasonal and simple curated menu, with coffee and pastries in the morning and cocktails, wine & light bites, such as cheese boards, in the evening. With landscaping designed by Cameron Landscapes, the industrial space has soaring high ceilings, oversized chandeliers and indoor/outdoor seating. A hidden oasis, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the West End, The Garden will be open 9.30am to late daily.
Cocktail bar, Cecil Beaton, inspired and named after the high society photographer and theatre costume designer, will serve theatrically curated cocktails by renowned mixologist Tristian Stephenson. Each cocktail is dedicated to one of Cecil Beaton’s subjects, a costume design, pattern work, or a simple story.
The menu includes an iconic Eliza Doolittle (No3 Gin, white port, creme de violet, lemon juice, Franklin & Sons soda), Beautiful Wasp (bacardi quatro, pineapple, tonka, saffron, coconut sugar) and also non-alcoholic options like Peter Pan (everleaf forest, mint, apple, Franklin & Sons natural tonic water). Cecil Beaton will be open from 10am daily.
Champagne is the focus for The Rotunda, a perfectly preserved sequence of Regency public interiors. The magnificent space, inspired by the Pantheon in Rome, has been restored preserving its most historical elements, including the King’s side and Prince’s entrances, a result of a disagreement between George III and the then Prince of Wales (later, King George IV).
This is celebrated in the restoration of the Rotunda with the division of the theatre into the King’s Side and the Prince’s Side, and accentuated by delicate embroidery on the seats.
Soon to be announced, the Grand Saloon will be opening later in the year offering a Regency-inspired afternoon tea created by one of the UK’s top cake makers.
Exquisite art and sculptures are on display throughout, showcasing a breadth of work from established and emerging talents.
Andrew Lloyd Webber commented, “The task of restoring the Theatre Royal was threefold. How to reinstate Wyatt’s glorious “front of house” rooms, how to fix the 1922 auditorium and, third, how to make this extraordinary building a versatile, vibrant heart of the artistic soul of Covent Garden.
' I believe that the Lane is now one of London’s most warm and beautiful auditoriums, and the most versatile historic theatrical space anywhere in the world. The restoration of the Theatre Royal, uniting my two great passions of theatre and architecture, has been a colossal task rendered very difficult by the Covid pandemic.
'It simply would have ground to a halt without the dedication of our extraordinary craftsmen and the team overseeing the project in, at times, almost impossible circumstances.
'Madeleine and I hope that the Theatre Royal will become a vital part of the Covent Garden community. We want to welcome you all through it’s doors all day and every day for everything from cocktails to coffees and lots, lots more.”
Madeleine Lloyd Webber said, “From the very start, we wanted to do something different with this iconic building. I wanted to encourage the use of our bars, tea rooms, bistro all day long, whether you have a theatre ticket or not. This was about setting the bar really high on customer experience, from butler service at your theatre seat, to luxury (and plentiful) ladies loos.
'This star of the West End is about fabulous shows, but also a place to meet and socialise for coffee, cocktails or just enjoy the art and architecture. With a range of brilliant collaborators, we have created something truly special.
'Covent Garden needs energy and life more now than ever before and we are so pleased that we have played our part in the revival of this building, and London’s West End.”