Theatres quick to reassure audiences after Apollo ceiling collapse

David Chadderton

Theatre owners and the Society of London Theatres have been quick to reassure audiences that their theatres are safe following the incident at the Apollo, Shaftesbury Avenue on Thursday 19 December during which part of the ceiling collapsed.

76 people were injured, seven seriously, when some of the ornate plasterwork from the Apollo's ceiling collapsed during a performance of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time after heavy rain, taking down some of the balcony as it fell.

The building has been handed back to its owners, Nimax Theatres, as safe to enter but investigations continue to find the cause of the collapse and to ascertain when it will be safe to open the theatre again. Performances have been cancelled until 4 January.

In a statement on Friday 20 December, the Society of London Theatres said, "Our theatres entertain over 32,000 people in central London every night and all theatres take the safety of their audience, performers and staff very seriously. Every theatre undergoes rigorous safety checks and inspections by independent experts, and incidents like last night are extremely rare.

"At a meeting today all the major theatre owners have confirmed that their safety inspections and certificates are up to date, and will co-operate fully with the authorities to reassure the public that their theatres are safe. All other London theatres remain open for business today and in the coming weeks."

One of the UK's leading theatre owners Ambassadors Theatre Group also released a statement on Friday to reassure its own customers, saying, "All ATG theatres are properly licensed, have appropriate ceiling certificates, receive regular building inspections and have recently undergone full satisfactory condition and structural surveys. ATG continually makes significant investments in the maintenance, upkeep and improvement of its venues to ensure the safety and comfort of its audiences as a top priority.

"As an extra precaution and in order to reassure our customers, ATG's ceiling contractors have begun additional ceiling and roof surveys within the company's theatres."

An investigation into the Apollo incident will now be carried out by Westminster City Council after the police have confirmed they have ruled out criminal action.