As previously tipped (See The Goss, 14 Jun 2004), theatre owner Cameron Mackintosh will launch a programme of late-night entertainment at the West End’s Prince of Wales theatre (pictured), which he reopened this past May after a £7 million refurbishment.

Live - a planned season of cabaret in the Delfont Room, the theatre’s main, lower bar – will launch on Wednesday 2 February 2005 with a one-night only concert given by two-time Olivier Award winner Joanna Riding, whose many musical credits include The Witches of Eastwick, My Fair Lady, Carousel, Guys and Dolls, Martin Guerre, Me & My Girl and A Little Night Music. Riding is currently appearing at the West End’s Savoy Theatre in Noel Coward’s comedy, Blithe Spirit, for which she’s been nominated for a Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Award for Best Actress (click here to vote now).

A spokesperson told Whatsonstage.com that Riding’s concert will comprise classic songs representative of her own career in musical theatre as well as newer work, including “You Don’t Know This Man” and “All the Wasted Time” from Jason Robert Brown’s Broadway musical Parade. Riding’s musical director is Douglas White.

A season of fortnightly evenings throughout March and April will be announced in the new year and, if they’re well received, says Dolman, the plan will be to programme more frequent post-performance entertaining at the Delfont Room. The late evenings begin at 10.00pm, after the 7.30pm performance of Mamma Mia!, the Abba musical which is now resident at the Prince of Wales. On these occasions, the Delfont Room, which has secured a license to serve alcohol beyond 11.00pm, will remain open until 1.00am.

The Prince of Wales closed for a year while undergoing its top-to-tail refurbishment. In addition to the restoration of the building’s façade to its original 1930s art deco style, the theatre’s interior was gutted and rebuilt, with the 1,100-seat auditorium redesigned to provide greater leg room and more comfortable seats. All other public facilities were also been expanded and improved (See News, 25 Jun 2003).

At the time of the reopening, Mackintosh told Whatsonstage.com that audience members’ overwhelmingly positive reactions to the new-look Prince of Wales, and in particular the improved bars, had convinced him that they should make better use of the facilities outside of show hours. As for his vision of the Delfont Room as a performance venue in its own right, he likened it to “what Sardi’s or the Green Room used to be”. He added: “We don’t want to rival the local pub. The idea is to make the West End a glamorous as well as a fun place to go. It has to be glamorous.”

The Delfont Room will have a club-like atmosphere, with capacity for 200, of which approximately 70 will be table seating. Tickets for Riding’s February concert are priced £10 for general admission and £20 for a seat ticket.

NOTE: Booking for the Joanna Riding concert opens on 5 January 2005.

- by Terri Paddock