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For the theatre in Melbourne, Australia see Comedy Theatre, Melbourne
Comedy Theatre
Comedy Theatre in July 2007
Address
Panton Street
City
Country UK
Designation Grade II listed
Architect Thomas Verity
Owned by Ambassador Theatre Group
Capacity 796 on 4 levels
(1,180 on opening)
Type West End theatre
Opened 15 October 1881
Previous names Royal Comedy Theatre
Production The Misanthrope
www.ambassadortickets.com/Comedy-Theatre/Information
Coordinates: 51°30′35″N 0°07′51″W / 51.509778°N 0.130722°W / 51.509778; -0.130722

The Comedy Theatre, is a West End Theatre, and opened on Panton Street in the City of Westminster, on 15 October 1881, as the Royal Comedy Theatre. It was designed by Thomas Verity and built in just six months in painted (stucco) stone and brick[1]. By 1884 it was known as just the Comedy Theatre. In the mid-1950s the theatre went under major reconstruction and re-opened in December 1955, the auditorium remains essentially that of 1881, with three tiers of horseshoe shaped balconies[1].

Contents

History

In 1883, the successful operetta Falka had its London première at the theatre, and in 1885, Erminie did the same. The theatre's reputation grew through World War I when Charles Blake Cochran and André Charlot presented their famous revue shows. Famous actors who appeared here include Henry Daniell who played John Carlton in Secrets in September 1929.

The theatre was notable for the role it played in overturning stage censorship by establishing the New Watergate Club in 1956, under producer Anthony Field[2]. The outdated Theatres Act 1843 still required scripts to be submitted for approval by the Lord Chamberlain's Office. Formation of the club allowed plays that had been banned due to language or subject matter to be performed under 'club' conditions. Plays produced in this way included the UK premières of Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge, Robert Anderson's Tea and Sympathy and Tennessee Williams' Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. The law was not revoked until 1968, but in the late 1950s there was a loosening of conditions in theatre censorship, the club was dissolved and Peter Shaffer's Five Finger Exercise premièred to a public audience[3].

The theatre is a part of the Ambassador Theatre Group.

The theatre was Grade II listed by English Heritage in June 1972.

Recent and present productions

References

  • Guide to British Theatres 1750-1950, John Earl and Michael Sell pp. 104-5 (Theatres Trust, 2000) ISBN 0-7136-5688-3
  • Who's Who in the Theatre, edited by John Parker, tenth edition, revised, London, 1947, pps: 477-478.

External links

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