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Old Vic in need of 'urgent' repair says Hackney Empire saviour

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The architect behind the successful rebirth of the Hackney Empire, Tim Ronalds, has claimed that one of London's other world-famous theatres is in need of immediate attention.

Ronalds believes £13 million is needed to fix structural problems at the Grade II-listed Old Vic, such as a leaking roof and a misshapen auditorium. The remains of a temporary asbestos roof, which was installed after the venue was bombed during the Blitz, also need to be removed.

Ronalds, who was appointed to come up with ideas to refurbish the theatre on The Cut, near Waterloo Station, last August, said: 'The fact that rain comes through the roof and fuses the lights in the auditorium means repairs are pretty urgent. Kevin Spacey [the artistic director] considers 'urgent' as things that would make productions work better. What interests me is turning it back to a theatre that has atmosphere and intensity.' The theatre secured £50,000 of funding last year from the Heritage Lottery Fund to make preliminary investigations into the possibility of redeveloping the building.

The Old Vic Theatre Trust, which owns the building - designed by Rudolph Cabanel - plans to make a decision shortly regarding the theatre's future.

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