Stunning behind-the-scenes look at the theatres of London’s West End

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It has been a torrid 12 months for theatres in London‘s West Finish and additional afield, having been largely shut since March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

And these pictures will remind audiences what they’ve been lacking, offering an interesting behind-the-scenes have a look at what goes on backstage – from elegant dressing rooms to the congested orchestra pit.

They function in a brand new model of the e book ‘London Theatres’ by Michael Coveney and Peter Dazeley which fits contained in the likes of the Playhouse, London Palladium, Lyceum, Drury Lane, Garrick, Aldwych and Palace Theatre.

It appears on the historical past of the Palace, which incorporates a pump used to maintain the water degree of the buried River Fleet beneath the constructing, and Drury Lane which nonetheless has the 1947 painted backdrops to Oklahoma! saved backstage. 

Different fascinating options embrace the ‘thunder run’ which created sound results utilizing cannon balls at Her Majesty’s Theatre, and a backstage ‘donkey run’ on the Palladium for reside animals which leads onto the road.

The e book additionally factors out that theatres have suffered from epidemic-related closures previously, together with twice throughout William Shakespeare’s lifetime – in 1592 for 2 years and in 1603 – due to plague outbreaks. 

Some West Finish theatres opened on the finish of the second lockdown in early December, solely to be pressured to shut days later due London transferring into Tier 3 – with A Christmas Carol ending 24 hours after its press night time.

Pantomimes throughout the nation had been additionally cancelled final month, with many venues now going through monetary catastrophe although some switched to on-line performances in a determined try and make some earnings. 

In a ahead for the e book, British star of stage and display Mark Rylance, 60, writes: ‘The previous theatres remind me that except used rigorously, expertise can divide the room and take away the actor to a different place. 

‘Spectacular and highly effective as that could be, the best moments for me, as actor or viewers, have been when actor and viewers have turn out to be one. That’s what I’m going to expertise in all these fantastic theatres.’ 

And creator Mr Dazeley added: ‘The bizarre factor about theatres is that we purchase our ticket, sit down, look ahead at midnight to be entertained. We by no means see the fantastic thing about our fantastic theatres and their heritage. They’ve one thing within the environment of all of the performances through the years, that is within the cloth of the buildings.’ 

Palace Theatre: The theatre at Cambridge Circus which is staging Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was opened as the Royal English Opera House in 1891. Nearly a century later in 1983 it was bought by Andrew Lloyd Webber's group for £1.3million. The stage has wooden machinery underneath, and a pump used to keep the water level of the buried River Fleet below the theatre

Palace Theatre: The theatre at Cambridge Circus which is staging Harry Potter and the Cursed Little one was opened because the Royal English Opera Home in 1891. Almost a century later in 1983 it was purchased by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s group for £1.3million. The stage has picket equipment beneath, and a pump used to maintain the water degree of the buried River Fleet beneath the theatre

Her Majesty's Theatre: The prompter's desk is pictured at what was The Phantom of the Opera's home for 30 years, in the fourth theatre on the site which was once a cattle market. At one stage it was the second largest opera house in Europe, after La Scala in Milan. Architectural features include its French Renaissance style, four Corinthian pillars and plaster busts

Her Majesty’s Theatre: The prompter’s desk is pictured at what was The Phantom of the Opera’s house for 30 years, within the fourth theatre on the positioning which was as soon as a cattle market. At one stage it was the second largest opera home in Europe, after La Scala in Milan. Architectural options embrace its French Renaissance fashion, 4 Corinthian pillars and plaster busts

London Coliseum: The view from the stage at the Roman-inspired building, which was built in 1904 and is the largest West End theatre with 2,359 seats. It features a stunning mosaic dome in the foyer and has functioned exclusively as an opera house since 1968. The theatre was the first in Britain to be fitted with a revolving stage, which has a triple revolve

London Coliseum: The view from the stage on the Roman-inspired constructing, which was in-built 1904 and is the biggest West Finish theatre with 2,359 seats. It incorporates a beautiful mosaic dome within the lobby and has functioned completely as an opera home since 1968. The theatre was the primary in Britain to be fitted with a revolving stage, which has a triple revolve

Theatre Royal Drury Lane: The star's dressing room at the fourth theatre on the same site dating back to 1663, which is billed by the book as the 'greatest story ever told in the West End'. A 15-year-old Nell Gwyn, who was a celebrity in the Restoration period, made her debut there in the 17th century and gas lighting was introduced in 1817 at the site on Catherine Street

Theatre Royal Drury Lane: The star’s dressing room on the fourth theatre on the identical web site relationship again to 1663, which is billed by the e book because the ‘biggest story ever advised within the West Finish’. A 15-year-old Nell Gwyn, who was a celeb within the Restoration interval, made her debut there within the seventeenth century and gasoline lighting was launched in 1817 on the web site on Catherine Avenue

Prince of Wales Theatre: The orchestra pit at the Art Deco theatre which was built in 1937. The building is meant to give the feel of walking on board an ocean liner, and Barbra Streisand make her only London appearance in a stage role there, in Funny Girl for a few months in the 1960s. It hosted the Beatles at the Royal Variety Performance in their breakthrough year of 1963

Prince of Wales Theatre: The orchestra pit on the Artwork Deco theatre which was in-built 1937. The constructing is supposed to present the texture of strolling on board an ocean liner, and Barbra Streisand make her solely London look in a stage function there, in Humorous Lady for a couple of months within the Sixties. It hosted the Beatles on the Royal Selection Efficiency of their breakthrough 12 months of 1963

Shaftesbury Theatre: A grid of steel cables and pulleys is high above the stage of what is both the first and last theatre to have been built on Shaftesbury Avenue. It was originally built in 1888 before being destroyed by the Blitz, before another theatre nearby, previously known as the Princes Theatre, was given its name in 1963. It was the first entirely steel-framed theatre

Shaftesbury Theatre: A grid of metal cables and pulleys is excessive above the stage of what’s each the primary and final theatre to have been constructed on Shaftesbury Avenue. It was initially in-built 1888 earlier than being destroyed by the Blitz, earlier than one other theatre close by, beforehand often called the Princes Theatre, was given its identify in 1963. It was the primary totally steel-framed theatre

Theatre Royal Drury Lane: The 1947 painted backdrops to Oklahoma!, one of the great post-war musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein, are still stored backstage. There are four brick tunnels under the front three rows of the stalls, with one said to have taken King Charles II directly into the Strand to meet his mistress Nell Gwyn on the site of the tavern in Bull Inn Court

Theatre Royal Drury Lane: The 1947 painted backdrops to Oklahoma!, one of many nice post-war musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein, are nonetheless saved backstage. There are 4 brick tunnels below the entrance three rows of the stalls, with one stated to have taken King Charles II instantly into the Strand to satisfy his mistress Nell Gwyn on the positioning of the tavern in Bull Inn Court docket

Donmar Warehouse: The Covent Garden creative house is a three-sided grey-painted auditorium which is a large cube measure 25ft in all directions. It is one of the more modern West End venues having opened in 1977, and the lighting rig at the top of the space is pictured above. It is located at the top of a staircase and allows 20 people to stand at the back of the gallery

Donmar Warehouse: The Covent Backyard artistic home is a three-sided grey-painted auditorium which is a big dice measure 25ft in all instructions. It is without doubt one of the extra fashionable West Finish venues having opened in 1977, and the lighting rig on the prime of the area is pictured above. It’s positioned on the prime of a staircase and permits 20 individuals to face in the back of the gallery

Her Majesty's Theatre: The 'thunder run' in the stage left gallery of the theatre is one of only two remaining in Britain. It is a device using cannon balls, replaced in the modern era by sound effects. All the original stage machinery is built from wood, and under it is a series of lifts, levers, drums and winches is said to give the impression of being below decks at sea

Her Majesty’s Theatre: The ‘thunder run’ within the stage left gallery of the theatre is considered one of solely two remaining in Britain. It’s a machine utilizing cannon balls, changed within the fashionable period by sound results. All the unique stage equipment is constructed from wooden, and below it’s a collection of lifts, levers, drums and winches is alleged to present the impression of being beneath decks at sea

London Palladium: The quick-change area under the stage of the theatre is pictured. It opened in 1910 at a cost of £250,000 or £10million in today's money, and stands on the site of the Duke of Argyll's house. In 1971 it was the first theatre to accept credit cards and it has a backstage 'donkey run' for live animals which leads from stage level onto Great Marlborough Street

London Palladium: The short-change space below the stage of the theatre is pictured. It opened in 1910 at a price of £250,000 or £10million in as we speak’s cash, and stands on the positioning of the Duke of Argyll’s home. In 1971 it was the primary theatre to simply accept bank cards and it has a backstage ‘donkey run’ for reside animals which leads from stage degree onto Nice Marlborough Avenue

'London Theatres' by Michael Coveney and Peter Dazeley is published by Frances Lincoln for £35. All pictures © Peter Dazeley

‘London Theatres’ by Michael Coveney and Peter Dazeley is printed by Frances Lincoln for £35. All photos © Peter Dazeley



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