Cambridge Theatre and Prince Edward Theatre - London

Stage Spy: London’s Mackintosh Theatre and Lloyd Webber Theatre?

It is almost too unbearable to think about, but there will surely come a day when global theatre impresario Cameron Mackintosh, and hugely successful musicals composer and producer Andrew Lloyd Webber are no longer whizzing around London’s Theatreland making great theatre.

Alongside the extraordinary range of musicals that the pair write and/or producer, they are also – combined – the largest West End theatre owners in London, with a total of 14 theatres between them through their Delfont Mackintosh Theatres and LW Theatres companies.

From the mighty London Palladium and Theatre Royal Drury Lane (Andrew’s theatres), to the palatial Victoria Palace, Prince Edward Theatre and Prince of Wales (Cameron’s), they own some of the most prestigious and historic theatres in London.

We are assuming that succession planning, and provision for who manages and owns these theatres, has long been decided by both of them. But it also raises the question of which theatres will surely carry their names when the time comes?

It’s in no way definite that they, or the people they leave behind, will want to name a London theatre after them. But even if they didn’t own a single venue; even if they had produced/created half of what they have done; or had half the global success that they have had, we would surely still be talking about naming London theatres after them.

It seems as obvious and predetermined as wanting Stephen Sondheim’s name to be branded on the side of a London theatre.

It’s hard to imagine that His Majesty’s Theatre (recently renamed for obvious reasons), the Theatre Royal Drury Lane or the London Palladium could ever be renamed, such is their prestige.

The Noel Coward, Gielgud, Sondheim, Novello and Gillian Lynne have only just been renamed (well, in recent memory), so they are definitely off the table.

Which leaves the Adelphi and Cambridge out of Andrew’s theatres, and the Prince Edward, Prince of Wales and Wyndham’s from Cameron’s stable.

The Adelphi is probably historic enough, and long-enough associated with the name, that it won’t be touched. Which leaves the Cambridge Theatre as a prime candidate for the Lloyd Webber Theatre.

For Cameron, the Wyndham’s is forever associated with plays (at least as far as David Hare is concerned), so maybe isn’t the best fit. Which leaves the Prince of Wales and Prince Edward. Both are Royal titles currently in use, but neither named after the current incumbents. Our money is on the Prince Edward Theatre, home to so many of Mackintosh’s productions, with lots of history in there for him.

Hopefully any renaming is a long way off, but it’s interesting to think about how these two men collectively own such a large swathe of our West End, and how their extraordinary legacies will be honoured in the future.

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West End Theatre ownership
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