Arts Theatre Reopens Under New Management, JanDate: 29 December 2008
The Arts Theatre is to reopen next month under new management, with former Carl Rosa Opera and Sound Theatre general manager Mig Kimpton installed as theatre director.
The 340-seat Leicester Square venue has been dark since July, when then director Martin Witts ended his lease. Established in 1927 as a theatre club to avoid the Lord Chamberlain’s stage censorship, the Arts went on to host premiere productions of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, Eugene O'Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra and Jean Anouilh’s Waltz of the Toreadors (all directed by Peter Hall). Other notable UK or world premieres have included Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker, Joe Orton’s Entertaining Mr Sloane, O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh and Tennessee Williams’ Suddenly Last Summer.
From January, the theatre will be managed by a partnership between Dominic Madden on behalf of investment group Kingdom Entertainment and Wimpole Theatre, co-producers of productions including The Complete Works of Shakespeare (abridged), Footloose and the recent Dickens Unplugged.
The new management has received the support of Old Vic artistic director Kevin Spacey, who said in a statement recently: “"I am delighted to see the re-opening and refurbishment of the Arts Theatre in the West End, and I support the intention of Dominic Madden, Wimpole Theatre and the team led by Mig Kimpton to revitalise this historic venue as a vibrant theatre space. I want to see it go places."
The Arts has often come close to closure over the years, and in 2005 was threatened with demolition following a dispute between the management team and landlord, India-based Gamma Investments (See News, 24 May 2005). However, it is currently being refurbished to incorporate an improved front of house reception and the launch of a new cocktail bar. A press statement from Wimpole Theatre said recently that the company's "primary focus" in 2009 would be on securing the future of the venue.
- By Theo Bosanquet