Introduction & History

About Us - In Brief

Delfont Mackintosh Theatres operates seven theatres (five freeholds and two very long leases) which are the Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, Queen's, Novello, Noël Coward, Wyndham's and the Gielgud.

A History of Delfont Mackintosh Theatres

In the autumn of 1990 Cameron Mackintosh received a call from Bernard Delfont asking him if he might be interested in owning two theatres. Lord Delfont had realized that his time and energy for the active management of his two London theatres, The Prince Edward and Prince of Wales, was coming to a close. Although the theatres were held by the First Leisure Corporation, the hugely successful public company that he had created with the extraordinary Max Rayne, they were very much his personal passion and he knew they needed to be in the care of someone who felt as strongly as he did about their future. The proposal was that Cameron should have an opportunity to acquire an interest in the company that held these two theatres. A number of meetings were held to discuss the idea and a way forward was planned. Cameron agreed to take a position upon condition that the new joint venture would show its commitment to the revitalisation of these buildings by undertaking a major restoration and refurbishment of the Prince Edward Theatre. The principle was agreed and in February 1991 Cameron became a partner in the theatres. A scheme was devised for the Prince Edward and works began on 7 September 1992.

Meanwhile in July 1991 Cameron received another phone call! This time the call was from the then freeholder of the Strand Theatre. The owner was considering selling the freehold interest and again wondered if Cameron might be the person to whom he should pass future custody of the building. The theatre had eleven years to run on the existing lease to the then tenants, Louis I Michaels Ltd. Cameron immediately saw the benefit of such an acquisition and took the idea to First Leisure. Everyone agreed that it made good sense and the sale was made by the end of November 1991 at which time the theatre division was renamed Delfont Mackintosh Theatres Ltd.

In March 1993 the beautifully restored and improved Prince Edward Theatre reopened to rave reviews and hosted the hugely successful three-year run of the Gershwin musical Crazy For You.

A few years after Bernard Delfont's death in 1994, discussions arose in the early part of 1999 regarding the future of First Leisure's theatre interests and around the same time an unexpected opportunity presented itself - to bid for the 150 year leasehold interest in the island site block that included the Queen's and Gielgud Theatres. The properties were owned by Christ's Hospital and leased to Stoll Moss from whom Really Useful Theatres acquired them in 2000. These leases were shortly due to come to the end of their term.

As the future strategy and policy regarding theatres was uncertain for First Leisure, the acquisition of these two theatres and the office building between them was undertaken by Cameron Mackintosh Ltd and completed in March 1999.

At the end of May 1999, First Leisure, under the Chairmanship of Michael Grade, decided it no longer appropriate to continue its theatre interests and Cameron acquired a one hundred percent interest in Delfont Mackintosh Theatres Limited.

It was during this period that yet another acquisition opportunity presented itself. In the previous twelve months Cameron had been looking at the acquisition of the theatres that comprised Chesterfield Properties' entertainment group Mayfair Entertainment, later to become Associated Capital Theatres. This group owned or controlled seven theatres, including the Albery and Wyndham's. These two theatres were approaching the end of their leases and a bid was made to the Salisbury Family Trust's Gascoyne Holdings, to acquire a new long leasehold (125yrs) interest. By October 1999 terms had been agreed and the leasehold of the Albery and Wyndham's was transferred to Delfont Mackintosh Theatres Ltd. In September 1999 the leases of the Queen's and Gielgud Theatres had been transferred to Delfont Mackintosh Theatres Ltd from Cameron Mackintosh Limited, the parent company, then, in Spring 2002, further discussions were held with Christ's Hospital and on 15 October 2002 the freehold of the Queen's and Gielgud was purchased.

Delfont Mackintosh Theatres now has seven theatres (five freeholds and two very long leases). Beginning with the Prince Edward and Prince of Wales, the Strand Theatre was next to join the fold. The Strand has since undergone major restoration and reopened as the Novello Theatre in December 2005 in recognition of the brilliant actor and composer Ivor Novello who lived in a flat above the theatre. The Albery and Wyndham's Theatres have been managed by Delfont Mackintosh since 19 September 2005 and the Gielgud joined the Queen's as a Delfont Mackintosh Theatre on 25 March 2006.

The fully renovated Prince of Wales Theatre reopened on 27 May 2004 with Mamma Mia! which transferred from the Prince Edward thereby allowing that theatre to enjoy its second refurbishment, completed in December 2004. The Queen's is to be part of a redevelopment scheme that will see it rebuilt and restored to its former glory to match the beautifully refurbished Gielgud Theatre completed in October 2007. In the interim the Queen's did get a mini-makeover when it joined the group on 29 March 2004. The renamed Noël Coward (Albery) Theatre has been restored and refurbished, with Wyndham's due to be completed by autumn 2008. These significant upgrades to all seven Delfont Mackintosh theatres demonstrate Cameron's commitment to revitalising these buildings for the 21st Century.