Portion of London’s Apollo Theatre Collapses During Performance
London. Thursday Night. A night the West End is usually packed with hundreds of people flooding into theatres to see some of the greatest stage performances Europe has to offer. It was like any other night in central London until shortly after the curtain rose at The Apollo Theatre where The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time is currently running. A cracking sound from above, which many audience members believed was a part of the show, was only the beginning of a tragedy about to unfold. Today, Luner on Theatre brings you the horrible news of a partial collapse that occurred at London’s Apollo Theatre last night during a performance of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time.
Shortly after the curtain rose for the performance of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time around 8:15 PM, emergency officials were alerted of a collapse at The Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue in London. Emergency officials responded to discover that a portion of the theater’s ceiling had collapsed into the theatre bringing down portions of the balcony with it trapping some theater goers inside. While many did make it out of the building just fine, 85 people were injured with minor injuries such as broken limbs or head wounds. 7 people were seriously injured and taken to local hospitals. None of their injuries are believed to be life threatening. At this time, authorities in London are not aware of and have not reported any fatalities in the accident.
According to an official statement from the London Fire Brigade, 8 fire trucks and over 55 firefighters responded within minutes of the call and arrived at the scene to begin a rescue operation. Specialist urban search and rescue crews were also called in to assure everyone trapped was found. London Ambulance and the Metropolitan Police were also on scene. Many of the injured theater goers were transported on London’s iconic double-decker buses to local hospitals for help.
The Apollo Theatre seats 775 people and due to the popularity of the piece The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time and the fact that it is Christmas time, the theatre was almost near capacity for the incident. Emergency officials reported around 720 people were in the theatre when the incident occurred. Many of the theater goers described hearing a cracking noise only seconds before the full collapse occurred. Many believed the noise at first was a part of the show only to realize it wasn’t when the actor’s themselves stopped in horror of what was unfolding before their own eyes.
Theatergoer Martin Bowstock told BBC that;
“All the actors reacted, we saw all the actors looking up above us and pointing, looking horrified and then things started falling and smoke, and I thought it was part of the show until something hit me on the head very hard.”
There was also a report from a witness in the theatre that one of the actors yelled “Watch Out!” only seconds before the actor’s all ran off stage and it went entirely dark. This was clarified in a statement later describing that the collapse had also brought down the production’s lighting units as well.
Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted the following after hearing of the incident;
“In my time as a fire officer I’ve never seen an incident like this. I imagine lots of people were out enjoying the show in the run-up to Christmas. My thoughts go out to all those affected.”
Nimax Theatres, who owns and operates The Apollo Theatre in London, posted a message on its website stating that it was not clear whether the ceiling was part of the restoration of the building. In a brief statement, a spokesman for the company said they would “continue to cooperate fully with the authorities to establish exactly what happened tonight.”
The Apollo Theatre opened it’s doors in London on February 21st, 1901. The theatre is located on Shaftesbury Avenue and was the fourth legitimate theatre to open on the avenue when it was built. As previously mentioned, the theatre is owned by Nimax Theaters who also owns and operates the Lyric, Garrick, Duchess and Vaudeville theatres in London’s West End. The Apollo Theatre has housed such recent productions as A Long Day’s Journey Into The Night, Blithe Spirit, All My Sons, Three Days of Rain, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and The Odd Couple.
As of late tonight, the last word out of London is that currently Emergency services are now working with Westminster City Council and engineers to insure the structural integrity of the building. While it may be some time before we find out the cause of this horrible collapse at The Apollo Theatre in London, I would highly suggest all theatre owners in London’s West End have their buildings inspected immediately regarding their structure. We must not wait for terrible tragedies like this to remind us we must not only prepare the theatre for the audience of today, but build it strong enough to withstand for the crowds of tomorrow. Stay tuned to Luner on Theatre as we bring you more coverage of the collapsed at London’s Apollo Theatre. For more information, visit Nimax Theatre’s Official Website.