Legendary for his work in modern musical theatre, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber’s pieces have been a fixture in theatre for decades. From Jesus Christ Superstar to Phantom of the Opera to the recently rejuvenated awkwardness of Cats, the influential writer is still crafting musicals to this day. So it may come as little surprise that he is the owner of West End London’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane—a historical theatre that just finished a two-year renovation this summer. But what might come as some surprise is the composer using the halls of Drury Lane to display his Pre-Raphaelite collection.
As part of the £60million pound restoration project for Drury Lane, sections of the grand theatre have been made accessible during the day, including gallery space. Much of the works on display are Webber’s Pre-Raphaelite pieces, which include Edward Burne-Jones’ The Adoration of the Kings & Shepherds, but newer pieces also can be found such as the works of Maria Kreyn that depict various Shakespearean scenes. With both the gorgeous aesthetics of the remodelling as well as the integration and presentation of Webber’s collection, artistry abounds in the new Drury Lane.
Theatre Royal Drury Lane has been operating for 350 years, first being constructed in 1663, and has since been a piece of theatre history on a massive scale. Its stages have been graced by the likes of Nell Gwynn—one of the first female actors of English stage—as well as Julie Andrews in My Fair Lady. The gearing towards utilizing more of the space for daytime viewing via the gallery spaces as well as dining and drinking areas seems a step in the right direction for historically grandiose theatres such as this, making for more than an empty building and rehearsals by daylight.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s influence within the theatre community of England and the world at large can’t be understated. His are wise hands to hold such a treasure as the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. As a wealth of theatres undergo and emerge from restorations, it is heartening to see the care put into maintaining these titans of theatre past.