In 2005 Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Theatres sold his four playhouses, the Lyric, Apollo, Garrick and Duchess theatres to Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer who formed Nimax Theatres Limited, adding the Vaudeville Theatre in 2008. Today Burns and Weitzenhoffer are also the proud owners of the spectacular Palace Theatre with its prime location on Shaftesbury Avenue, currently home to Stage Entertainment’s hit revival of Chichester Festival Theatre’s Singin’ in the Rain.
Andrew Lloyd Webber said:
“I am selling The Palace Theatre because I love it.
I feel that it’s been my home for nearly forty years. Jesus Christ Superstar began its record breaking run there in August 1972 and I bought the theatre in 1983. I wrote big chunks of Phantom in my upstairs office there.
During the time I owned this Victorian dream, I removed the huge neon sign that defaced the glorious terracotta exterior, much to the chagrin of West End producers who told me I had removed the greatest theatre advertising sight in London. I argued that the restored facade would speak for itself. It didn’t hurt the staggering run of Les Misérables.
I am proud that under my ownership the auditorium has been restored, the magnificent front of house that had been covered with army surplus paint was removed to reveal acres of Italian marble and the theatre that John Betjeman described as ‘the only theatre architecture … which climbs into the regions of a work of art’ was brought back to its former glory.
So why am I selling it?
First, and most importantly, I want to see a secure theatrical future for the Palace as I do the other historic theatres that I own through Really Useful Theatres. I can think of no better future custodians of Britain’s finest Victorian theatre than my friends Nica and Max.
Secondly, the proceeds of the sale will be used to repay debt and to strengthen the balance sheet of Really Useful Theatres. This will allow me to plan the future of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and continue work on refurbishing The London Palladium.
Lastly, Nica and Max are completely aware of my passion for The Palace and we have agreed that if there is a major theatrical reworking of the building, I will partner them.
Good luck Nica and Max. I hope the Palace is as good for you as it has been for me.”
Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer said:
“We are honoured that Andrew Lloyd Webber has entrusted us with the guardianship of this iconic building with its extraordinary history and will cherish it as he does. We have longed to own a major musical house and it doesn’t get much better than the Palace.”
Burns, who also runs Nimax as its CEO and has recently completed her three year term as President of the Society of London Theatre added:
“A big thank you to our financiers HSBC Corporate – a bank that still backs business – for making our bid possible”.
Burns and Weitzenhoffer’s recent productions include Pygmalion with Rupert Everett and Kara Tointon at the Garrick, Meow Meow in Concert at the Apollo, When We Are Married starring Maureen Lipman and Roy Hudd at the Garrick and the transfer of Mike Leigh’s Ecstasy from Hampstead Theatre to the Duchess Theatre. Their production of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night directed by Anthony Page starring David Suchet, Laurie Metcalfe, Trevor White and Kyle Soller opened at the Apollo Theatre last night to brilliant reviews.
Nimax is a popular and highly respected theatre owner and Burns and Weitzenhoffer are as passionate about their buildings as they are about their productions. A careful refurbishment programmes has seen the restoration of four of the five facades, notably the Apollo on Shaftesbury Avenue which has been transformed with a splendid renovation of its stonework and statues. Backstage facilities have been hugely improved, especially with the addition of a backstage lift at the Duchess. The public facilities have been upgraded with state of the art loos at the Apollo and Duchess and others planned.
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