Fire Threatens Historic Theatre Royal HaymarketDate: 26 September 2002
A fire started in the West End in the small hours of this morning, Thursday, 26 September 2002, threatened to damage one of London's most historic theatres, the 180-year-old Theatre Royal Haymarket.
According to BBC News Online, 50 fire-fighters were called out to battle the blaze that is thought to have ignited in the basement of the building adjacent to the theatre at 3.00am.
On the scene this morning, all of Haymarket, as well as several surrounding side streets, was cordoned off to both traffic and pedestrians. A policeman on duty there told Whatsonstage.com that the theatre had not been affected, but smoke was billowing from windows on all floors of the building to the left of the Theatre Royal.
The building is believed to have been unoccupied, with an empty shop on the ground floor and vacant flats. Following the fire, it was expected that the entire structure would have to be gutted.
Thankfully, the Theatre Royal appears to be undamaged. By 9.00am, some staff were allowed back into the area, and a theatre spokesperson reported that "we're a bit smoky but otherwise fine".
The Theatre Royal is currently dark so no performances should be affected. The Royal Shakespeare's production of Antony and Cleopatra has just finished its limited season. Previews are due to start next week, 4 October 2002, for one of the season's hottest tickets, the world premiere of David Hare's The Breath of Life, starring Dames Maggie Smith and Judi Dench.
The first Theatre Royal was built in Haymarket in 1720, with the current building erected on the same spot in 1820/21. In the 1990s, the Victorian venue underwent a £1.3 million refurbishment. During its history, the Theatre Royal has hosted hundreds of historic productions, not least the world premieres of Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband and A Woman of No Importance.
- by Terri Paddock