Theatre Royal Drury Lane: A Star Reborn, Offering Five-Star Comfort

By CTH Editors

5 months ago

Theatre Royal Drury Lane is a Great British Brand 2024

Theatre Royal Drury Lane is an entry in our Great British Brands 2024 book.

Theatre Royal Drury Lane: Great British Brand 2024

‘As our first year after refurbishing and really establishing ourselves as a fully functional building, 2023 proved a triumph. We’re Disney’s landlord, enabling it to put on shows like Frozen, now in its second successful year, with little girls in blue dresses from all over the world enjoying a magical time.

Seventy-five percent of theatres are empty outside performances but we wanted people in our building from morning to night, so just as important are our theatre tours, art, architecture, and food and drink, and now the place is vibrant. We transformed horrible little Vinegar Yard, housing a leaky, disgusting fire-escape, into a wonderful garden terrace as part of Jamie Oliver’s cosy next-door restaurant. Our key differential is we’re not a corporation but a family business and so is Jamie’s, and our brands go hand-in-hand. We’re all about creating a really special, comfortable occasion, which is partly why we reduced the theatre’s capacity from 2,000 to 1,800 and put in 60 extra ladies’ loos. 

This is probably London’s most important, extraordinary Regency building, with two royal boxes and identical mirrored staircases, for king and prince. We were the first to employ a top hotel interior designer to achieve a five-star theatre. People feel they’re somewhere like Claridge’s rather than a renovated theatre. It tells a story of great British craft – even our ice-cream and confectionery are housed in bespoke cabinets. 

But my job was making the building functional, so everything behind the stunning cladding is incredibly high tech. Without tech, Drury Lane would have withered and died. Our proscenium auditorium can adapt to plays in the round and we sought out the smartest digital ticketing system there is for theatre. Hidden tech enables the smooth presentation of a beautiful human, sensory and memorable experience.’

Madeleine Lloyd Webber, owner

Image credit: David Burton

Five Proudest Moments

  1. Recovering from our specially commissioned furniture being destroyed in a factory fire, to be ready for Prince Charles’s visit in May 2021, just before we opened in June.
  2. Landing the contract with Disney to stage Frozen, which opened in September 2021.
  3. Our architects, Haworth Tompkins, receiving the 2023 RIBA London Award for the completion of a major restoration of a Grade I-listed building.
  4. Being constantly listed among the top five venues in London for afternoon tea.
  5. Hosting Vogue World in September 2023 after Anna Wintour rang up and said, ‘Honestly, there’s nothing like this building, we have to host Vogue World here.’ She’s hardly easy to please, so we were thrilled!

What I’ve Learnt

  • Put people’s comfort and enjoyment before everything. 
  • Never just rely on an architect but hire the right interior designer to match your strategy and build. 
  • It’s a responsibility and privilege to be a custodian of a historic building, so commit to leaving it in a better state than you found it in.


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