Theatre Royal Drury Lane

The Grade I-listed Theatre Royal Drury Lane, owned and managed by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s company LW Theatres and built originally in 1812, is set to regain its status as the prime venue for musical theatre in London.

Subject to planning approval, the refurbishment will restore public areas of the theatre to their former glory, reducing the number of seats in the auditorium from 2,200 to 2,000 for wider seats and extra legroom, while creating a new restaurant and offices. Disabled access will improve by installing ramps and lifts on every level of the auditorium.

Skelly & Couch key works will include renovating the front-of-house facilities for an improved atmosphere before and after shows, integrating a new commercial restaurant and kitchen and providing cloakrooms, WCs, bars and access that meet the outstanding standards of the theatre. The front of house will be more spacious and have improved circulation to manage more people at all times of the day. All lighting will be replaced with LEDs, and there will be a major intervention to the auditorium ventilation installation, with improvements to air distribution to avoid drafts and a 40% improvement to the efficiency of the system. Moreover, the back stage and stage house will be modernised, with multifunctional elements allowing it to be used outside of performance times; unused spaces will be transformed to provide additional public access and practicality to the theatre, turning the building into more of an ‘everyday’ space, as well as a vibrant focal point for Covent Garden, open to more than simply theatre-goers.

As well as co-ordinating new and existing services, Skelly & Couch will design the renewal of building services front of house, hot and cold water, as well as fire and voice alarm installations. The theatre has acquired a building next door that was once the vegetarian Gardenia restaurant, famously frequented by members of the Suffragettes movement.