Stephen Sondheim will become the first living artist to have a theatre named in his honour on Shaftesbury Avenue, according to Sir Cameron Mackintosh. It was confirmed today that the Queen's Theatre will reopen after its refurbishment in December this year as the Sondheim Theatre.
"For the past 25 years I have tried to build a studio theatre in central London named after Sondheim, but it wasn't to be," said Sir Cameron. "I felt this major refurbishment of a building that has housed his brilliant work was the perfect moment to put his name 'on some marquee all twinkling lights... a spark to pierce the dark'. Stephen Sondheim has always been that spark to all of us."
In an official statement. Sondheim said in response: “I have loved British theatre since I saw my first play here in 1958. I have treasured Cameron Mackintosh’s support and friendship ever since he produced Side by Side by Sondheim in 1976. Cameron is synonymous with British theatre, so the confluence on this occasion is truly exhilarating. I am chuffed, as you say in British English, to a degree I wouldn’t have imagined, or as we say in American English, it’s awesome.”
The Queen's was home to the London premiere of Passion in 1996, with Maria Friedman and Michael Ball, and played host to The Stephen Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year from 2010 to 2012, during which time Alex Young, Taron Egerton and Kris Olsen all took home the first prize.
Mackintosh was quoted by critic Baz Bamigboye as saying that "the Queen’s name change to the Sondheim will mark the composer’s 90th birthday next year", and that the signage could be up by December.
This news follows on from earlier plans to rename the Ambassadors Theatre in Sondheim's honour, a project that finally collapsed towards the end of 2018 after the seller, Stephen Waley-Cohen, pulled out of the sale.
The first production in the newly refurbished Queen's – Sondheim – Theatre will not be a Sondheim show but a return to Les Misérables. Perhaps we can look forward to one of Steve's shows in time for his 90th in March...?
Here's our suggestion for Cameron – just a thought!