A new owner has been announced for the Theatre Royal Haymarket, having bought the venue off of current owners Louis I Michaels Limited.
Pictured: Cast of Take That musical The Band, which premieres at the Theatre Royal Haymarket on 1 December 2018
The old London playhouse was put up for sale back in January and sat on the market for nearly half a year, leaving many to wonder who might be the lucky ones to purchase this West End gem. Countless rumours sparked that perhaps an existing theatre operator like Ambassador Theatre Group, Trafalgar Entertainment or Nimax Theatre Group would purchase the theatre. Other rumours included overseas investors looking to add the venue to their oligarchical trophy collection. There was also even a crowdfunded campaign to purchase the Theatre Royal Haymarket and transform it into a venue for female-led works.
It has now emerged that Access Entertainment, which is a global investment division of Leonard Blavatnik's Access Industries, has purchased the property for a whopping £45 million, further increasing its portfolio of acquisitions in television, theatre and film. Blavatnik is a Ukrainian-born entrepreneur and owner of Warner Music Group. He ranks third in the Sunday Times Rich List and his net worth is reputed to be around £15.3 billion.
The great Theatre Royal Haymarket purchase dwarfs previous sales in London's West End, including the Palace Theatre, purchased by Nimax Theatres for £20 million in 2012, and Victoria Palace, purchased by Cameron Mackintosh for about £26 million in 2014. Previous theatrical investments by Access Entertainment include School of Rock, Hello Dolly!, and Hamilton in both the West End and on Broadway.
Blavatnik commented on the recent acquisition for his firm: "The UK is home to many of the world's most remarkable artistic talents. We are proud to be the new owners of the Theatre Royal Haymarket and will continue its long tradition of excellence."
The Grade I listed playhouse on Haymarket (the grade used for buildings of exceptional interest) is the third oldest of its kind, followed by Sadler's Wells and Theatre Royal Drury Lane. It is located across from Her Majesty's Theatre, currently running The Phantom of the Opera, and since the 1970s it has been privately owned by a family of three generations.
The Theatre Royal Haymarket is currently playing Christopher Hampton's fresh take on Molière’s Tartuffe, which stars Peaky Blinders' Paul Anderson. Upcoming shows at the Haymarket include a limited run of Kahlil Gibran’s Broken Wings in August and the highly anticipated West End premiere of Take That musical The Band, which opens this December and will play through Christmas and New Years.
A production of Only Fools and Horses is also set to premiere at the venue early next year with details yet to be confirmed.
Tickets to see Take That musical The Band can be purchased here.