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Theatre-land in shock over Apollo Theatre roof collapse

Story by Jack Foley

SOME of the leading lights in London’s theatre-land have reacted with shock and sadness to news of the collapse of the roof at the Apollo Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue.

Seventy six people were injured following the incident at around 8.15pm on Thursday, December 19, 2013, with 58 requiring hospital attention. They had been watching a performance of the critically acclaimed The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time when about 10 sq metres of ornate plasterwork fell on the audience.

News of the tragedy quickly spread throughout the West End, which was also playing host to the opening night of Stephen Ward, the new musical from Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Sir Richard Eyre, the show’s director and a former director of the National Theatre, said the news was “frightening and shocking and disturbing”.

Mark Haddon, who wrote the novel upon which the Curious Incident is based, took to Twitter to express his horror at the news and his sympathy for the victims.

He said it was “horrifying” watching the events unfold but added that he was “hugely relieved” there had been no fatalities reported.

“I hope that those who were seriously injured are OK. I’m sorry, too, that so many people went through such a terrifying experience,” he continued.

Actor David Suchet also took to Twitter to express his dismay, writing: “What a tragedy. My thoughts are with all those who are hurt and injured.”

Nimax Theatres, the owners of the Shaftesbury Avenue theatre, described the incident as “shocking and upsetting” and said an investigation was under way, while a representative from the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) said a statement would be forthcoming.

However, Prime Minister David Cameron also took to Twitter to pay tribute to the work of rescue crews, who were at the scene within minutes. He wrote: “I’ve been updated regularly on the Apollo incident. I’m grateful for the fast work of the emergency services in helping the injured.”

London Mayor Boris Johnson reiterated that comment with his own Tweet: “Thank you to everyone involved in the emergency operation at the Apollo theatre tonight – incredible response in very difficult conditions.”

Read more about the collapse