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West End theatre to be renamed after Stephen Sondheim

The Queen’s Theatre in London (The Queen’s Theatre/PA)
The Queen’s Theatre in London (The Queen’s Theatre/PA)

The Queen’s Theatre in the West End is to be renamed after Stephen Sondheim to mark the composer and lyricist’s 90th birthday.

The Academy Award-winner will become the first living artist to have a theatre named in his honour both in the West End and on Broadway.

The rebrand will come after a major restoration of the theatre’s auditorium and backstage is completed, including renovation of wartime bomb damage.

Stephen Sondheim
Stephen Sondheim (Jeff Overs/BBC)

The theatre will close on July 13 and reopen on December 18, with its owners hoping to return the space to its pre-war splendour.

Sondheim said: “I have loved British theatre since I saw my first play here in 1958.

“I have treasured Cameron Mackintosh’s support and friendship ever since he produced Side By Side By Sondheim in 1976.

Sir Cameron Mackintosh
Sir Cameron Mackintosh (Ian West/PA)

“Cameron is synonymous with British theatre, so the confluence on this occasion is truly exhilarating.

“I am chuffed, as you say in British English, to a degree I wouldn’t have imagined.  Or as we say in American English, it’s awesome.”

The newly named Sondheim Theatre will remain the home of Les Miserables as it enters its 35th year.

Theatre owner Sir Cameron Mackintosh said: “As an innovative voice in musical theatre, his influence has no equal. Sondheim’s work will undoubtedly be performed as long as audiences want to see live theatre, so I feel honoured that he has agreed to have his name on one of my Shaftesbury Avenue theatres to salute his upcoming 90th birthday.

“Over the decades his work has become increasingly appreciated and performed by all, both as part of the popular theatre and classical repertoires and in spaces that range from a pie shop to the Royal Opera House.

“His love of theatre is unquenchable and throughout his career he has been an exceptional champion of so many young creatives as well as supporting numerous productions worldwide, especially here in London.”

The Queen’s Theatre opened on October 8 1907 with The Sugar Bowl, a comedy by Madeleine Lucette Ryley, and was designed by architect WGR Sprague.

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