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Fortune Theatre: Wikis


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Fortune Theatre
The Woman in Black (2006)
Russell Street
Designation Grade II
Architect Ernest Schaufelberg
Owned by Ambassador Theatre Group
Capacity 432 on 3 levels
Type West End theatre
Opened 8 November 1924
Previous names Fortune Thriller Theatre
Current use The Woman in Black
Coordinates: 51°30′48″N 0°07′15″W / 51.5132°N 0.1207°W / 51.5132; -0.1207

The Fortune Theatre is a 432 seat West End theatre in Russell Street, near Covent Garden, in the City of Westminster, built in 1922-4 by Ernest Schaufelberg for impresario Laurence Cowen. The façade is principally bush hammered concrete, with brick piers supporting the roof. The theatre is entered through bronze double doors, internally, there is a foyer of grey and red marble, with a beaten copper ticket booth. The theatre is situated next to Crown Court Church and opposite the Theatre Royal. It was the first theatre to be built in London after the end of World War I.

The theatre opened, as the Fortune Thriller Theatre on August 8, 1924, with Sinners by Lawrence Cowen. An author and playwright, Cowen commissioned the theatre in an Italianate style, that stands on the site of the old Albion Tavern, a public house that was frequented by Georgian and Victorian actors. On this site had once stood the historic Cockpit Theatre.

During World War II, the theatre hosted performances by ENSA, entertainers drawn from the armed forces. Since the war, the theatre has been a receiving house, with actors such as Dame Judi Dench, Dirk Bogarde and Maureen Lipman appearing. The Fortune also hosted shows from Flanders and Swann and Beyond the Fringe. Nunsense played at the theatre in 1987.

Since 1989 the theatre has hosted the long running play The Woman in Black, which was adapted by Stephen Mallatratt from the book of the same name by Susan Hill. A celebration was held in 2001 to mark the 5000th performance. From 9 to 13 September 2008, the show was performed in Japanese by Takaya Kamikaya and Haruhito Saito, in celebration of the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the UK and Japan. [1]

With 432 seats in the auditorium, it is believed to be the second smallest West End theatre. It was refurbished in 1960[2].

The theatre's famous figurine, Terpsichore (perched high above the entrance) was sculpted by M H Crichton of the Bromsgrove Guild, a noted company of artisans from Worcestershire.

The theatre was Grade II listed by English Heritage in May 1994[3]. Since the demolition of the original Wembley Stadium, the theatre is now the oldest remaining public building designed wholly using concrete as a textured and exposed façade.


  1. ^ WhatsOnStage
  2. ^ The Fortune thisistheatre accessed 28 July 2007
  3. ^ English Heritage listing details accessed 28 Apr 2007
  • Guide to British Theatres 1750-1950, John Earl and Michael Sell pp. 110 (Theatres Trust, 2000) ISBN 0-7136-5688-3

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