Report Cites Ceiling Materials In Apollo Theatre Collapse in London
London’s West End was rocked late last year during the holiday season as a collapse at one of its theatres brought the show to a stand still and sent dozens of people to local hospitals with injuries. While other theatres held their curtain briefly to insure their own safety, the show went on for the rest of London’s West End as the dust cleared at The Apollo Theatre and officials made their way in to investigate. After months of investigation, refurbishing and restoring, the Apollo is returning to an operating house in the West End this spring. But the question still remains; What went wrong? Today, Luner on Theatre brings you an update on the news with a conclusion regarding the collapse at London’s Apollo Theatre late last year!
On Thursday December 19th, 2013 during a performance of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time, London emergency officials were called were to the Apollo Theatre. When they arrived, they entered the West End Theatre to discover a portion of the ceiling had collapsed bringing down sections of the balcony with it. 85 people sustained minor injuries while 7 were more severely injured. Several theatre goers were trapped inside and had to be rescued. Luckily, no one was killed. An investigation was immediately launched not only into the reason for the collapse at the Apollo but also the building’s structure as a whole.
According to an investigation by the Westminster Council, the collapse at the Apollo Theatre was caused by the deterioration of century-old cloth and plaster ties holding up timber frames. The council cited the ceiling materials as “the principal cause” in the ceilings collapse which was first believed to have occurred due to heavy rain. The ceiling was made of hessian wadding and plaster from Paris. It was the original ceiling materials since the theatre opened in 1901 making them 112 years old at the time of the collapse. A photo above show debris across the theatre shortly after the collapse.
At this point in time, Nimax Theatres, who owns the Apollo, has declined to comment on the reports findings. As for the Apollo, the theatre has been given a makeover. The ceiling and portions of the balcony affected by the collapse have been restored and refurbished. The front of house area and backstage of the theatre were also refurbished during the time it was shut down. While The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-time has since moved on, the Apollo began performances for its first production since the collapse last night titled Let The Right On In.
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.
The announcement regarding the ceilings materials as the main cause for collapse is one that is now sending waves of fear throughout the West End community. Like Broadway, many of London’s West End Theatres are nearing 100 years or are well past that in terms of operation. Materials, like the one that caused the collapse at the Apollo, can be found in theatres throughout London. The council has suggested all West End theatres look into their ceilings and the material it is made of in order to prevent another collapse, like the one at the Apollo, from occurring again. Luner on Theatre plans on reaching out to several West End theatre owners to see if they have any plans to renovate or restore after hearing the councils findings on the Apollo. We will report back with what we hear!
As they say in theatre, the show must go on! Performances for Let The Right One In began last night at the theatre and it has returned to a fully operating West End Theatre. Another full report on the details of the collapse at the Apollo is expected from local authorities sometime this spring. We will be sure to bring you that when it has been made public. For more information on the Apollo, visit Nimax Theatres Official Website. Be sure to follow Luner on Theatre on Facebook and Follow Us on Twitter as well! We are constantly updating these pages with information! And of course, check out the rest of Luner on Theatre for all your theatre news you don’t only need but want to know and so much more!