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Mackintosh to acquire Victoria Palace & Ambassadors
Theatre owner & producer Cameron Mackintosh is to acquire Victoria Palace Theatre and The Ambassadors Theatre from Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen.
He will take over The Victoria Palace Theatre in June this year and The Ambassadors Theatre by 2015 (subject to obtaining the necessary planning consents) and renaming it The Sondheim Theatre.
These acquisitions will bring the Delfont Mackintosh group of London theatres up to nine, including Gielgud, Noel Coward, Novello, Prince Edward, Prince Of Wales, Queen's, Wyndham's.
The 1500 seat Victoria Palace Theatre, currently home to Billy Elliot, will close for about a year from autumn 2016, to tie in with surrounding redevelopment work. The stage will be extended by six metres, the front of house enlarged and completely overhauled and the auditorium and exterior restored to its full glory.
The Ambassadors Theatre (renaming it The Sondheim Theatre) is to have its auditorium rebuilt to create a non-proscenium stage (subject to planning consents). Plans to forge a new role for the Ambassadors as a receiving house for extended seasons of new productions from the subsidised sector in London and the regions.
Stephen Waley-Cohen says: “For the Victoria Palace there can be no better next owner than Cameron Mackintosh. He will ensure that the great enlargement and modernisation of facilities back-stage and front of house are implemented to create a Matcham Theatre for the 21st Century. I have been privileged to have stewardship of it for almost 25 years, and thank all the staff I have worked with to create the improvements we have already achieved, as well as the producers who have brought such successful shows. "For the Ambassadors Theatre, provided planning consent is obtained for Cameron’s wonderful plans to create the Sondheim Theatre, this will be a shining example of how imaginative re-thinking can ensure a vibrant future for a historic theatre. Until this happens, Stomp will continue its very successful run, and we will welcome back the National Youth Theatre for a second repertory season this autumn. "I will continue to manage the St. Martin’s Theatre where I produce Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap as well as managing its continuing worldwide success.”
Stephen Sondheim says: “I am flattered and thrilled that Cameron Mackintosh has chosen to rename The Ambassadors Theatre after me. What I’ve always loved about London theater is its diversity, much of which is the result of work developed in so-called “fringe theatre” and in non-traditional spaces. Most of those shows, for financial and practical reasons, have limited runs as well as limited audiences. What Cameron is supplying is a transfer house for seasons of those productions, a way of prolonging their lives and allowing them to be seen by an expansive variety of audiences – something, I should add, as much needed in New York as in London. To have my name attached to such a vivifying contribution to British theatre is an honour as well as a thrill.”