Royalty plans future as opera-dance venue in Thames TV tie-up
The Stage
28 August 1980
The Stage: This Is Your Life article
related page...

Venues and Sets

the studio look and locations


LONDON'S ROYALTY Theatre is to become a major lyric venue after an extraordinary deal which has given it solid protection from the crisis in the West End.

The Royalty has been selected by Thames Television as the recording theatre for its This Is Your Life series due to re-start in October. And the surprise element of the deal is that the Royalty will be able to present live shows at the same time.

The television company wants exclusive rights to use the building on just three days a week though it will pay a "generous rental", staff wages and the heating and lighting bills.

And this guaranteed income has already allowed the Royalty's new artistic director, Hugh Wooldridge, to create a policy which he believes will make the theatre London's leading commercial centre for opera and dance.

Wooldridge was brought in by Royalty boss Dennis Mosselson after the spectacular collapse of "Barnardo". His brief has been to help the theatre survive the recession sweeping the West End by giving it a firm policy and establishing a strong identity.

The Thames Television tie-up will now give the Royalty vital security while it settles into its new role. The deal will also allow Wooldridge to present artistically successful companies which have not yet developed the commercial pulling power to appear on any other West End stage.

Wooldridge believes that London is in the throes of a dance boom and wants the Royalty to be linked with the surge in interest.

With its "superb acoustics" and proximity to both the Royal Opera House and Covent Garden's dance centres, Wooldridge believes the theatre is ideally placed to become both a working and social centre for the London opera and dance community.

Seasons and shows are currently being booked and the theatre is available for rehearsals, auditions and classes.

Wooldridge paid tribute to Dennis Mosselson for tackling the problems which beset London's commercial theatre with an adventurous change of direction. This was also believed to be the first time, he added, "that a television company has sponsored live theatre in this very practical way."

A spokesman for Thames, which has signed its This Is Your Life contract until next April, said the company was delighted that its agreement with the Royalty had also helped with the theatre's future as a live venue.

The programme is usually recorded on Wednesdays but Thames will also have exclusive use on Mondays and Tuesdays to cater for the availability of This Is Your Life subjects.