Stripped-back Donmar to reopen with a loving touch

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The former banana-ripening warehouse opened as a theatre in 1977 (The Other Richard)
The former banana-ripening warehouse opened as a theatre in 1977 (The Other Richard)

A revamped Donmar Warehouse is preparing to reopen after a multi-million pound makeover.

The former banana-ripening warehouse in Covent Garden opened as a theatre in 1977 and actors Ewan McGregor, Nicole Kidman and Dame Judi Dench have all graced its stage.

The project has revealed the building’s original brick ceilings, doors have been widened and the lift has been replaced to make it more accessible.

The makeover also included refurbishing the seats, putting in a cafe and installing more lavatories.

Artistic director Michael Longhurst said the work had been planned pre-pandemic but lockdown gave the theatre “the time to make this all happen”.

The circle bar (Michael Molloy)
The circle bar (Michael Molloy)

He said the architects at Haworth Tompkins, who have also worked on the National Theatre and the Young Vic, had “revitalised” the building.

He said: “We have very much preserved and celebrated the aspects of the building which made the Donmar the Donmar — taking inspiration from its original warehouse features and brought it together in a cohesive way, maintaining the magic of the space.”

He said the work gave the building “a totally different feel”.

The theatre officially reopens for the first time since March last year on Thursday. The opening night will stage Love and Other Acts of Violence.

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