The Week in Light & Sound
Tuesday, 18 May 2021
Olympic Proportions - Plans have been announced for the construction of the biggest theatre in London for 45 years. The 1,575-seat Olympia will form part of a redevelopment of the same name in Kensington. It follows a £100m deal between theatre operator Trafalgar Entertainment and the site owners of Kensington Olympia in west London. The last theatre to open in the capital with over 1,000 seats was the National Theatre on South Bank in 1976.
If plans are approved, the Olympia theatre is scheduled to open in 2025 and Trafalgar Entertainment would have a lease for 35 years. Trafalgar co-founder Sir Howard Panter said it would be "something of international stature as the UK emerges into the new era". He added: "We hope that a bit like our neighbour just down the road, the Royal Albert Hall, it will become an iconic, marvellous cultural building in its own right. The announcement preceded Monday's scheduled reopening of many theatres with socially-distanced audiences for the first time this year, having been closed down because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Dance On - Blackpool Tower's famed ballroom is being prepared to reopen to the public after a £1.1m refurbishment. Dancers hope to be allowed to step on to the dancefloor on 21 June when the last Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. Meanwhile, the ballroom has undergone its most extensive work programme and deep-cleaning for more than 60 years. Craftsmen, who worked on projects including the Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace, have dedicated more than 21,000 hours over six months.
The work on the period plasterwork ceiling was made possible thanks to a £764,000 grant from the Government's Culture Recovery Fund, together with funding from Blackpool Council.
Other News - Andrew Lloyd Webber is selling the Other Palace Theatre, which he bought six years ago to develop new musicals. Early stages of the process to sell the central London theatre have already begun, Lloyd Webber’s venue management arm LW Theatres confirmed. Lloyd Webber said putting the "unique" theatre up for sale was "heart wrenching", however, according to a spokesperson from LW Theatres, the plans are part of a "strategic move" to consolidate the company’s operations in the West End.
Street Life - Street performers have said they will be relieved to have their "valuable livelihoods" back when lockdown eases and the busking ban is lifted. Due to Covid, the government prohibited street performance until 17 May. A spokesman for the Musicians Union said buskers would again be able to earn a living again "without the threat of police action". The union added, "Whilst it is appreciated that it is an activity which has the potential to draw a crowd, it is predominantly undertaken outdoors where the government's research indicates a considerably lower risk of Covid infection.”
(Jim Evans)
18 May 2021

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