At a packed Stationers’ Hall for last week’s London Press Club Awards Andrew Lloyd Webber followed in the steps of fellow peers Sebastian Coe and Doreen Lawrence by becoming the third recipient of the special Londoner of the Year award, which he was presented with by Guy Black.
The recognition came after the West End enjoyed a record year in 2014. In addition to being one of the most successful composers of recent times – with a string of international musical theatre hits including Cats, Evita and The Phantom of the Opera – Lloyd Webber also owns six West End theatres, including the Palladium and Theatre Royal Drury Lane. It was in this capacity that his speech captured the interest of press on both sides of the Atlantic, including the Telegraph, the Independent, Playbill and UTV.
Lloyd Webber then responded to the coverage on his official website: “I am delighted there has been so much interest in my speech to the London Press Club Awards in which I elaborated on what John Betjeman wrote about the architecture of entertainment being by definition impermanent and needing to adapt to changing theatrical taste. Whilst some West End theatres have architectural merit, it is important to remember their purpose. I believe theatre owners need a more flexible planning environment, which allows us to adapt our performance spaces for contemporary needs. The majority of West End theatre owners are constantly re-investing and caring for their buildings. In my case, every penny of profit made in Really Useful Theatres is re-invested in the buildings. But we are dealing with theatres built for a different audience in a different era. We cannot allow our theatres to be fossilised for purely preservationist reasons.”