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Andrew Lloyd Webber brings Theatre Royal Drury Lane back to life for new album

Written by on 22 April 2021

Andrew Lloyd Webber has brought the world-famous Theatre Royal Drury Lane back to life by recording an album with an 81-piece orchestra.

It marked the first time in more than two years that the historic London venue, which is owned and operated by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s company, has been used for live music, after undergoing a £60 million restoration.

The recording session, which took place late last week, was conducted by Simon Lee, and features three newly orchestrated suites from his shows Evita, Phantom Of The Opera and Sunset Boulevard.

EMBARGOED TO 0001 THURSDAY APRIL 22 Undated handout photo issued by Universal Music Group of musicians arrive at the Theatre Royal, Dury Lane to record with Andrew Lloyd Webber. Issue date: Thursday April 22, 2021.  Image: An 81-strong orchestra was welcomed into the venue

Released in June, they will feature on a new album called Symphonic Suites.

Lord Lloyd-Webber said: “For over a year now, we have lived without the joy of live music. To bring an 81-piece orchestra into the new Theatre Royal Drury Lane for this first performance on the biggest stage in London feels like a momentous step forward.

“As we fight to bring performers back to work and theatres back to life, I hope that this album might now take on a new meaning: the music which represents the triumphant and hopeful return of live music, theatre and entertainment across the world.

“It is wonderful and very moving for me to see brilliant musicians back where they belong.”

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Phantom Of The Opera, which was initially rumoured to be closing down, will celebrate 35 years on the West End this year, while a filmed version of the 1993 show Sunset Boulevard will be made available for audiences on 10 May for five days.

Evita first appeared on stage in 1978, and has since been turned into a film featuring Madonna in the lead role.

The refurbishment of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane began in January 2019, after the closure of the revival of the musical 42nd Street, and aims to bring the venue back to its former 1812 glory.

There will be a new street level entrance, ramps to the stall seats, 20 more wheelchair spaces across three levels and more women’s toilets.

Peter Cobbin and Kirsty Whalley, recording engineers and co-founders of Such Sweet Thunder, said: “The sound captured at Theatre Royal Drury Lane is akin to a world-class recording venue. In our collective 70-year experience of recording in venues the world over, we have never heard such a majestic sound stage.

“The vast stage of Theatre Royal Drury Lane allowed us to socially distance an entire symphonic orchestra, something that is not possible in any recording studio anywhere in the world.

“Like the unique heritage and legacy that comes with the exceptional renovation of Theatre Royal Drury Lane, the recordings marry characterful vintage and time-honoured analogue with the latest state-of-the-art pristine technologies.

Stephanie McKeon and Samantha Barks will play Anna and Elsa in Frozen. Pic: Julia Kennedy for Disney Image: Stephanie McKeon and Samantha Barks will play Anna and Elsa in Frozen when it opens at the theatre. Pic: Julia Kennedy for Disney

“Theatre Royal Drury Lane has provided a unique opportunity to create one of our greatest recordings ever.

“The sonic clarity, depth, detail and warmth of the theatre sits beautifully in the breathtaking aesthetic, surely an inspiration for any musician and performer.”

The theatre will open in full in August when Disney’s Frozen The Musical will hit the stage.