New London Theatre

The New London Theatre, as its name suggests, is the West End's newest theatre although there has been a place of entertainment on the site since Elizabethan times. During the reign of Charles II a tavern stood where the theatre stands today. Neil Gwynn lived nearby and was known to be associated with the tavern which, by the end of the 17th century, was called the Great Mogul. In the early 18th century it was a meeting place for glee clubs and 'sing-songs' were held in the adjoining hall.

In 1847 the Mogul Saloon was built which, over the next four years, was renamed the Turkish Saloon, the Mogul Music Hall and finally, in 1851, the Middlesex Music Hall. Reconstruction work took place in 1872 and 1892 before a completely new building was erected in 1911 and renamed the New Middlesex Theatre of Varieties. In 1919 the theatre was renamed the Winter Garden and, with the interior completely redecorated, reopened under the management of George Grossmith and Edward Laurillard. In 1959 the theatre was sold by the Rank Organisation to a property development company and was demolished in 1965.

The New London Theatre

As a condition of the redevelopment scheme, the New London Theatre was built as part of a complex incorporating a restaurant, shops, flats and a car park. Given the opportunity of designing a 'theatre for the future' the architects (Paul Tvrtkovic in association with Sean Kenny, Chew and Percival) incorporated many revolutionary features, notably the stunning 60-foot-wide revolve which includes the stage, orchestra pit and part of the seating.

The New London Theatre opened on 2 January 1973 with Peter Ustinov's play The Unknown Soldier and His Wife. This was followed by the London premiere of the musical Grease starring Richard Gere. From 1977 to 1980 the theatre was used as a television studio for a variety of shows including This Is Your Life. The theatre is multi-purpose and has been used for a conference centre.

On 11 May 1981 Cats opened and has since become the longest-running British musical. In August 1991 the theatre was purchased by Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Really Useful Group. Really Useful Theatres is a wholly owned subsidiary of this group and now co-owns and manages thirteen theatres in London's West End.

Source: Cats programme.