Cameron Mackintosh plans new West End theatre on Shaftesbury Ave 'Sondheim Theatre'

Cameron Mackintosh plans new West End theatre on Shaftesbury Ave 'Sondheim Theatre'

Sir Cameron Mackintosh has confirmed plans to build a new theatre, The Sondheim, and revamp six of his other venues in an effort to boost dwindling audiences.

He told BBC News Online he is spending £35m to rejuvenate London's West End to "make it exciting and new".

Sir Cameron's Sondheim Theatre - named after US composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim - will be the first new theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue for more than 70 years.

It will be built above his Queen's Theatre - which will itself be remodelled when work begins in 2006.

Some £20m is being invested in redesigning the block on Shaftesbury Avenue housing the Queen's and the Gielgud Theatre.

They will get a communal foyer, and an extra 200 seats will be added to the Queen's.

Impression of proposed Prince of Wales auditorium The 500-capacity Sondheim will take extended runs of musicals and plays transferred from other leading smaller theatres such as the Almeida, Donmar Warehouse and Cottesloe.

Stephen Sondheim said he was thrilled to have had his name attached to the venture.

He said: "The news that the West End is at last getting a theatre that can take transfers of productions from Britain's subsidised studio playhouses for extended runs is thrilling indeed for British writers and audiences."

Sir Cameron plans to spend another £7m refurbishing his Prince Of Wales theatre.

Its façade and entrances will be improved, leg room and seating upgraded, and the auditorium rebuilt and decorated in gold, bronze and copper to give it a more lavish look.

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