3rd September 2021

Theatre Royal Drury Lane

The refurbishment of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane has created a dramatic jewel in London’s famed West End. The theatre is now unique not only for its pedigree but its art collection too. Andrew Lloyd Webber, the famed composer and impresario, has installed highlights from his own collection throughout the building, combining a leading private collection within a public theatre space in a way that has never been done before.

TM Lighting was appointed to work with lighting designer BDP to light all of the works ahead of the opening of Disney’s Frozen at the theatre in late August 2021. More than 100 pieces have been lit with individually focussed lighting in order to accurately draw out vibrancy of colour with even light distribution. The diverse collection, from Pre-Raphaelite works by Edward Burne-Jones to contemporary paintings by Maria Kreyn, has been ‘brought to light’ through TM Lighting’s project, the largest ever carried out in a theatre.

All of the works were lit with a customised TM Classic Picture Light, demonstrating the product’s dexterity to light across subjects and spaces. Within the Wyatt Staircases, however, Andrew Lloyd Webber preferred for there to be no interruption to the architectural features surrounding two 18th century works depicting Shakespearean scenes. TM Lighting used GalleryOneFifty lights suspended from the staircase above to work as picture lights for these paintings, highly focussing the lighting to ensure there was no light spill onto the frame or surrounding walls.

The Edward Burne-Jones paintings are considered to be the most significant works in the collection, and they were installed in a South Coffee Room, off the theatre’s Grand Saloon. As a west-facing room, the space is flooded with natural light each evening, and it was important to retain control over the hierarchies of light within the room.

Elsewhere in the theatre, where natural light was not in abundance, such as the King’s Box, TM Lighting’s products provided an ambient light that was allowed to flow beyond the canvas and into the rest of the room.

American artist Maria Kreyn was commissioned by Andrew Lloyd Webber to create eight works especially for the theatre reopening, each visualising a Shakespearean scene. Grouped into two sets of the four, they were placed on opposite wings of the foyer so that they would be the first works on canvas that visitors would see when entering the theatre. Each were lit with a TM Classic Picture Light so that the vibrancy and action inherent in the works shone through and the pieces could truly ‘perform’ as they were intended in their spaces.

Five 19th century sculptures, each depicting a famous playwright, were moved to the central foyer bar from elsewhere in the theatre with William Shakespeare taking centre-stage. To create the effect of these playwrights as actors, each was brightly illuminated with TM ZeroThirty spotlights, discreetly installed on nearby lamps and focussed to cast light from distances of up to five metres. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s specifications regarding the lighting of these sculptures were precise. He requested they be lit as though they were on stage – using light to create drama in their facial features and cast shadows dramatically behind.

The installation of fine art lighting to illuminate an art collection in a theatre is a new concept and TM Lighting carried out the project using its experience working in arts and heritage spaces and in some of the country’s top stately homes. TM Lighting used state-of-the-art, museum-quality LED lighting to illuminate the historic and contemporary treasures contained within the theatre’s beautiful interiors and were pleased to support Andrew Lloyd Webber’s creation of a truly one-of-a-kind theatre space filled with art.

We are thrilled that our project to illuminate Andrew Lloyd Webber’s art collection at Theatre Royal Drury Lane is featured in September’s Apollo Magazine. The online version of the article can be read here.