Andrew Lloyd Webber faces £20,000 fine for 'illegally painting listed theatre black'

Andrew Lloyd Webber faces a £20,000 fine for illegally painting the Grade II-listed Adelphi Theatre black to promote his latest musical.

The composer has been accused of causing 'unacceptable' damage to the theatre and ordered to restore it to its former Art Deco-style glory.

If he refuses, council officers could launch legal action.

The row began after the theatre was repainted for Lloyd Webber’s current show Love Never Dies, the troubled sequel to The Phantom Of The Opera.


Drama: Westminster Council is threatening to fine Andrew Lloyd Webber's theatre company for painting the Grade II-listed Adelphi Theatre black

A planning application was lodged with Westminster council by Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Theatre Company January 21.

But it is claimed theatre staff painted the building before receiving consent.

In a report council officers called the theatre’s new colour scheme 'unacceptable'.

The report added: 'The works have changed the character and appearance of the theatre and harmed its special architectural and historic interest, and also the Covent Garden conservation area’s character and appearance.'

English Heritage also opposes the black paint, saying it has damaged the appearance of the Thirties building.

Legal battle: Andrew Lloyd Webber's company painted the theatre for his West End show Love Never Dies

Legal battle: Andrew Lloyd Webber's company painted the theatre for his West End show Love Never Dies

However, the Theatres Trust backed Lloyd Webber — as long as the black paint is thoroughly removed once the production closes.

The decision to begin legal enforcement action is due to be rubber-stamped at a meeting of the council’s planning applications sub-committee next Thursday.

Failure to comply could result in court proceedings and a maximum fine of £20,000.

A draft of a letter to be sent to the theatre company warns: 'It is a criminal offence to carry out work on a listed building without our consent. We will be pursuing enforcement action for the removal of the black paint.

The move is the latest setback to have hit Love Never Dies.

It opened last month to some of the most sour notices in theatre history, with one influential blog memorably renaming it 'Paint Never Dries' and describing it as tedious and gloomy, with inaudible singing and an 'interminably drawn-out finale'.

Then it was announced that the show’s Broadway premiere, originally planned for November, is being delayed until spring next year due to 'post-operative problems' suffered by Lloyd Webber following treatment for prostate cancer.

The Adelphi Theatre was bought by the Really Useful Group in 1993 and is currently owned and managed by the Adelphi Theatre Company Limited, a partnership between the group and Nederlander International.

The company has the right to appeal against the council’s decision.