History of Gillian Lynne Theatre:
The site of the modern New London Theatre previously held taverns and music hall theatres since Elizabethan times. In those times, it was tavern called The Great Mogul and it was associated with Nell Gwynne. In the 19th Century, the site held The Mogul Saloon (built in 1847), which became the Middlesex Music Hall in 1851, and in turn was rebuilt as the New Middlesex Theatre of Varieties in 1911.
In 1919 the theatre was sold, refurbished, and reopened as the Winter Garden Theatre, where it produced productions such as Kissing Time, A Night Out, Sally, Primrose, Funny Face (starring Fred Astaire), On The Rocks, Hotel Paradiso, and The Iceman Cometh before it was permanently closed in 1959.
The New London Theatre opened on 2 January 1973 with a production of the Unknown Soldier and His Wife, followed by Grease (starring Richard Gere as Danny). In 1997, the theatre began being used as a television studio for several years before return to theatrical productions. The theatre’s biggest hit was the musical Cats, which ran from 1981 to 2002 for a total of 8,949 performances. It held the record for longest running West End musical until 2006 when Les Miserables surpassed it.
In 2018, Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose Really Useful Group have owned the building since 1991, announced the theatre would be renamed the Gillian Lynne Theatre, the first London theatre to be named after a woman.
Dame Gillian Lynne started her dancing career as a ballerina, joining the Sadler’s Wells Ballet during the Second World War, and performing her first major solo at the opening of London’s Royal Opera House on her 20th birthday. She went on to join the Royal Ballet, and became a dancer in the West End, appearing as a star dancer at the London Palladium, and major productions such as Can Can at the London Coliseum.
Lynne quickly became renowned as a choreographer and director, working on productions with the English National Opera, Royal Shakespeare Company and many West End and Broadway shows. She may be best-known for her collaborations with Andrew Lloyd Webber: she choreographed the musicals Cats (which opened at the New London Theatre in 1981), The Phantom of the Opera (the second-longest running West End musical) and Aspects of Love (which ran in the West End and Broadway).
Lynne received a Special Award at the 2013 Olivier Awards for her continued services to theatre, and in 2014, she was made a Dame in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list.
The theatre is currently host to the critically acclaimed production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School Of Rock