MEMORIES OF IVOR


The Novello Theatre, Aldwych, London.



Sir Cameron Mackintosh
with Patron Sandra Watkins




Auditorium of The Novello Theatre,
London

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THE REFURBISHMENT OF THE NOVELLO THEATRE
The Novello Theatre, known as the Waldorf, when it opened on 22 May 1905 was designed by the well-known theatre architect W.G.R. Sprague. Like all theatres the Novello has altered constantly since it opened in May 1905 reflecting fashion, the whims of the lessees and sheer structural necessity owing to bomb damage and high usage over long periods of time. Thus, it was entirely fitting that during its centenary year it should enjoy the most substantial refurbishment of its long history. The work, which was undertaken by the architects, Arts Team at RHWL, and the interior designer Clare Ferraby, was highly sensitive to the Louis XIV style interior, richly decorated with marble and gilt, and to the original cream and gold colour scheme. The auditorium was completely redecorated, reseated and recarpeted, and the ceiling painting, after the style of Le Brun, cleaned and conserved. Throughout the building specialist decorators brought out the true beauty of the original plasterwork detail. In many places it was gilded for the first time giving audiences the opportunity to appreciate the panels and friezes adorned with fruit and foliage and the various musical trophies. While being period sensitive the theatre must also move forward to meet increased public expectation of front of house spaces and facilities. At the Novello major limitations were imposed on such improvements by the awkward shape of the site on which the theatre is built. However, both the stalls and the grand circle bars were extended. The stalls bar, now known as Ivor’s Bar, is appropriately hung with a selection of Novello memorabilia and of course the Folco Romanelli bust, kindly donated to the theatre by the Ivor Novello Appreciation Bureau, sits in a special niche by the entrance. The relocation of offices at grand circle level enabled this bar, now called the Waldorf Bar, to expand across the front of the building and enjoy views of the Strand and Aldwych never previously experienced. Here too Novello is well represented with production photographs of Glamorous Night and a recently installed display case containing personal items such as his crocodile skin ink blotter and special presents he was given by cast and company members appearing in his shows. Following its £4.5 million and 7 month refurbishment the theatre reopened on 8 December 2005 under its new name, the Novello, in tribute to Ivor Novello who lived in a flat above the theatre for 38 years. It was here that he wrote many of his best-known musicals and here too that he gave many a glamorous party.
Rosy Runciman
Archivist
Delfont Mackintosh Theatres



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Display in the Waldorf Bar...........

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