Ownership of the theatres in London is a confusing subject with a long history. You may think that each theatre is independently owned, or run by a small group of partners, but this is simply not true for most of the theatres in London. In fact, the majority of popular theatres in London’s West End are owned by major chains. Each of these chains own and operate several theatres throughout London and some even operate in other areas of the UK.
The four major groups to know about are Delfont Mackintosh Ltd, LW Theatres, Ambassador Theatre Group, and Nimax Theatres.
Delfont Mackintosh Ltd
This popular theatre chain was founded by Sir Cameron Mackintosh and Bernard Delfont in 1991. Shortly after Delfont’s passing in July of 1994, Mackintosh took over sole ownership of the group. There are seven theatres under the Delfont Mackintosh umbrella – Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, Queens, Novello, Noel Coward, Wyndhams, and the Gielgud Theatres. Cameron Mackintosh has a strong passion for theatre and has remained dedicated to restoring and updating these theatres over the years that he has owned the company.
LW Theatres, formerly branded as The Really Useful Theatre Group, is the brainchild of world-renowned director and songwriter Andrew Lloyd Webber. Sir Webber’s group actually has several divisions, one for film, one for records, and one for theatres. LW Theatres currently owns and operates the Adelphi Theatre, Cambridge Theatre, Her Majesty’s Theatre, London Palladium Theatre, New London Theatre, Palace Theatre, and Theatre Royal Drury Lane.
The Ambassador Theatre Group
Dubbed ATG for short, The Ambassador Theatre Group was formed in 1992 by Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire. The two have collaborated to create one of the largest theatre groups in the world, owning and operating over forty theatres throughout the United Kingdom. They also own ATG tickets, which has the distinction of being the largest ticketing company in the UK. Some of ATG’s theatres in the West End include Apollo Victoria Theatre, Harold Pinter Theatre, Donmar Warehouse Theatre, Phoenix Theatre, Piccadilly Theatre, Playhouse Theatre, and Savoy Theatre.
Nimax is the smallest of these groups but still has plenty of clout in London. It is also the newest group, having been founded in 2005 by Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer. Weitzenhoffer previously owned the Vaudeville Theatre, and he brought it on board when the two joined in on this venture. They then bought four theatres from Andrew Lloyd Webber, who had plenty to sell. Nimax theatres include the Apollo Theatre, The Duchess Theatre, Garrick Theatre, Lyric Theatre, and Vaudeville Theatre. Burns and Weitzenhoffer remained committed to preserving the history of these theatres while keeping them in the best shape possible for both performers and audiences.
All of these theatre groups have done an excellent job in maintaining the integrity of their theatres, and theatre enthusiasts in London are lucky to have them operating at such high efficiency. For every ticket purchased to one of these theatres, a small levy is charged and this is put aside for restoration and renovation so that we may continue to enjoy their beautiful performances.