The Apollo Theatre, which has been dark since part of the plaster ceiling collapsed onto theatregoers watching The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time in December, will reopen next month, owner Nica Burns has revealed.
Speaking to the Evening Standard, Burns said the "refurbished" venue will reopen on 26 March 2014, with the upper gallery "roofed in" to allow "further examination of the ceiling".
It is hoped the production to reopen the theatre will be the National Theatre of Scotland's adaptation of Let the Right One In, which recently ran to acclaim at the Royal Court.
Burns was speaking for the first time since the incident, which occurred on 19 December 2013 while theatrical luminaries - including Burns - were at the official opening of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Stephen Ward.
"There was a message from my theatre manager at the Apollo saying ‘You've got to come now, the ceiling's fallen in'," she told the Standard. "The thought that it was more than a chunk, a small piece, never occurred to me.
"Shaftesbury Avenue was cordoned off by police and you could hear the sirens. That was the moment I realised it was major. I pushed past everyone into the theatre and straight into the auditorium. It was unimaginable. About 112 years of thick black dust had come down. The air was dry. It made you cough straight away. It was like a stricken ship — that's the only image I can think of with all the debris."
Over 70 audience members were injured by the collapse, seven of them seriously.
"I haven't had a full night's sleep since," Burns, whose company Nimax bought the Apollo in 2005, added. "On a personal level, it would have been very difficult to cope if I had been on my own, and I am very lucky to have such a great husband. I can't think of anything worse that could have happened, apart from losing him. At least when I lost my mother I was prepared for it."
To read the full interview click here