WestEndExtra

The independent London newspaper

Slice of history for sale – price on application

Theatre Royal Haymarket – the last independently-owned theatre in the West End – is put up for sale

26 January, 2018

The Theatre Royal Haymarket

IT was a jewel designed by John Nash, commissioned by the Prince Regent, who felt London did not adequately reflect the glory of the nation and was looking rather dilapidated, tired and old.

Now the Theatre Royal Haymarket is looking for a new owner as the last independently-owned theatre in the West End is put up for sale.

Grade I-listed, the theatre has been in the hands of the Michaels family since the early 1980s.

Arnold Crook, who is the chairman of Louis I Michaels Ltd – he came into the company when he married parter Enid Channelle’s daughter – says the time has come for the beautiful Georgian playhouse to be taken on by someone else.

“Our ‘grand old dame’ has been a platform for entertainment, a place for laughter, tears and romance, within the city of London, for nearly 300 years,” he said this week as the sale was announced – though an asking price is only available on request.

“As custodians of the Theatre Royal Haymarket since 1981, it has been my life’s pride. It is now the time to hand over the reins to the next generation of dream-makers.”

The lease has another 68 years to run and the Theatre Royal has the added attraction of being the only theatre designed by the great John Nash.

Nash’s design tricks show why he was greatly admired by the playboy Prince Regent.

The interior was splendid: pink, gold and crimson were the colour themes choices, and a proscenium arch soared above the stage, supported by two giant marble pillars. They were topped off with golden palm fronds.

Another trick was to give the stage a slant, so actors could be easily seen as they moved to the back.

The opening night, on July 4 1821, saw a production of Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The Rivals and was followed by productions of Richard III and King Lear.

It has been in use ever since, making it the third oldest theatre, in terms of ongoing productions, in the UK.

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