Queen's Theatre to be renamed the Sondheim Theatre following major renovations
Posted on 5 July 2019
It has been announced today (5 July 2019) that the Queen's Theatre, home of Les Mis, will reopen as the Sondheim Theatre with a brand-new production of Les Miserables on 18 December 2019 for the show's record-breaking 35th year in London's West End. The venue closes its doors on 13 July 2019 to begin major renovation works, which were announced as early as last summer. The temporary concert-style production of the show at the Gielgud Theatre entitled Les Miserables: The All-Star Staged Concert is meant to bridge the gap so that the production may retain its theatre record and has nearly completely sold out.
Pictured: Sir Cameron Mackintosh (photo by Chicago Tribune) and Stephen Sondheim (photo by Jerry Jackson).
Cameron Mackintosh of Delfont Mackintosh Theatres is delighted to announce today that the Queen's Theatre in London's West End will be renamed the Sondheim Theatre to honour the upcoming 90th birthday of renowned musical theatre composer, Stephen Sondheim (Company, Follies, West Side Story, Gypsy). The name change, which takes effect just before the venue's grand reopening just in time for Christmas, will mark the first time in both Broadway and West End history that a theatre was named after a living artist. The large refurbishment project is meant to repair the damage caused by wartime bombing and will also completely overhaul the auditorium and backstage area. The Sondheim will continue to house the world's longest-running musical, which opened in London's West End in 1985 with Patti LuPone in the role of Fantine.
About the Queen's Theatre in London
The West End's Queen's Theatre first opened its doors on 8 October 1907 with the premiere of the Madeleine Lucette Ryley comedy, The Sugar Bowl. The venue was designed by the famous theatre architect, W.G.R. Sprague, who is also behind the designs for a number of other esteemed West End theatres, including Wyndham's Theatre, the Noel Coward Theatre, the Aldwych Theatre, the Gielgud Theatre, the Novello Theatre, St. Martin's Theatre, and the Ambassadors Theatre. The Queen's Theatre was originally meant to pair with the adjoining corner of Shaftesbury Avenue and was reopened on 8 July 1059 for the premiere of the Shakespearean recital by John Gielgud entitled Ages of Man. The building was reconstructed by Westwood Sons & Partners for £250,000 with Sir Hugh Casson serving as a consultant on the venue's décor.
The venue will now be closed for refurbishment once more, beginning next week, as builders work to restore the original loges and boxes by W.G.R. Sprague, which were destroyed during a bombardment in 1940 that forced the West End venue to be shut down for two decades. The newly restored venue will be returned to its pre-war glory and reopen on 18 December 2019 as the Sondheim Theatre with a completely revamped production of Les Miserables.
Spotlight on Stephen Sondheim
Born in New York City on 22 March 1930, Stephen Sondheim, 89, is best known for writing the music and lyrics for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Saturday Night, Anyone Can Whistle, Company, The Frogs, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures, Sweeney Todd, Merrily We Roll Along, Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park with George, Assassins, Road Show, and Passion (which ran in 1996 at the Queen's Theatre). He has also written the lyrics for Gypsy, Do I Hear a Waltz, and West Side Story as well as additional lyrics Side by Side by Sondheim, Candide, You're Gonna Love Tomorrow, Marry Me a Little, Putting It Together, Moving On, and Sondheim on Sondheim. His work in film and television includes writing the songs for Evening Primrose on TV, co-composing Reds, writing songs for Dick Tracy, composing scores of Stavisky, co-authoring the film The Last of Sheila, co-authoring the play Getting Away with Murder, and providing incidental music for the plays The Enclave, Invitation to a March, Twigs, and The Girls of Summer.
Stephen Sondheim currently sits on the Dramatists Guild Council, which is the national association of lyricists, composers, and playwrights. He served as President of the Council from 1973 to 1981 and founded Young Playwrights Inc. in 1981 in order to foster the creativity and promote the work of young American playwrights below the age of 19. His collected lyrics and attendant essays were published in two volumes entitled Look, I Made A Hat and Finishing the Hat. The living legend has also received a number of major awards for his work, including eight Tony Awards, an Academy Award, a Pulitzer Prize, a 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom, a Laurence Oliver Award, and eight Grammy Awards, and the Queen's Theatre name change marks the second time a theatre was named in his honour, the first being the Henry Miller's Theatre on Broadway, which was renamed to the Stephen Sondheim Theatre in 2010.
About the new Les Miserables production at London's Sondheim Theatre
The new production of Les Mis premiered in Cardiff in 2009 as part of the show's UK 25th Anniversary Tour. It is the only version of the musical to have been seen around the globe in the past decade and enjoyed sell-out runs in France, Mexico, Brazil, Broadway, Manila, Singapore, Spain, Dubai, Korea, Japan, Australia, and two North American tours that are still running. This record-breaking and critically-acclaimed production of Les Miserables opens 18 December 2019 with tickets for the new run now booking until 4 April 2020.
The new West End cast for Les Miserables will be announced in due course.