Rumours of Mackintosh’s building plans have been circulating for some time, and in January, he announced that he would be investing some £30 million in renovating his seven London venues, starting this summer with the £7 million refit of the Prince of Wales (See News, 10 Jan 2003). He suggested more sweeping property developments – thanks to his ownership of areas surrounding several theatres - in an interview later that month with Whatsonstage.com’s Mark Shenton (See Feature, 27 Jan 2003).
In an interview in this weekend’s Sunday Times, Mackintosh goes further still, revealing that, once Shaftesbury Avenue’s Gielgud and Queen’s theatres - currently run by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Theatres - revert to him, he plans to expand them into a three-theatre complex, or “dramadrome”. The theatres sit on opposite ends of a short block with the spacious Bar Monaco separating them – all of which Mackintosh owns.
If Westminster Council approves the impresario’s proposal, this sandwich space will become a new 500-seat venue, specifically geared towards receiving transfers from the likes of the Donmar Warehouse, Almeida Theatre and the National’s Cottesloe as well as other more intimate spaces on the fringe and from the regions.
Explaining the reasoning behind the project in the Sunday Times, Mackintosh says: “I have always wanted a transfer house for the kind of work that comes out of those theatres. For West End transfers, you find yourself having to pay £300,000 to £400,000 changing the architecture of the theatres you’re transferring to. So I’d like to provide the right sort of 500-seat space. Off-Broadway has always provided that sort of venue, but not London.”
- by Terri Paddock