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Shaftesbury Theatre
The theatre's current production is Hairspray
Address
City
Designation Grade II
Architect Bertie Crewe
Owned by The Theatre of Comedy Company
Capacity 1,400 seat
Type West End Theatre
Opened 26 December 1911
Previous names New Prince's Theatre
Prince's Theatre
Production Hairspray: The Musical
www.shaftesburytheatre.com
Coordinates: 51°30′58″N 0°07′34″W / 51.516083°N 0.126°W / 51.516083; -0.126

The Shaftesbury Theatre is a West End Theatre, located on Shaftesbury Avenue, in the London Borough of Camden.

Contents

History

The theatre was designed for the brothers Walter and Frederick Melville by Bertie Crewe and opened on 26 December 1911 with a production of The Three Musketeers, as the New Prince's Theatre, becoming the Prince's Theatre in 1914. It had a capacity of 2,392 and a stage 31' 10" wide by 31' deep.

1921-22 D'Oyly Carte season: Ruddigore

The Prince's was the last theatre to be built in Shaftesbury Avenue, and is located near New Oxford Street, perhaps explaining the many gaps between performances in its early years. It had considerable success with an 18 week season of Gilbert and Sullivan operas, presented by the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, in 1919. These became a regular attraction at the theatre in the 1920s, interspersed with runs of theatre productions transferred from other venues. Basil Rathbone appeared at the Prince's Theatre in May 1933 when he played Julian Beauclerc in a revival of Diplomacy. The Rose of Persia was revived at the theatre in 1935. The D'Oyly Carte returned in 1942.

The theatre was sold to EMI in 1962, and became the Shaftesbury Theatre the following year. Broadway productions that transferred to the theatre for long runs in the 1960s included Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1962), How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1963) and Little Me (1964).

Part of the ceiling fell in on 20 July 1973, forcing the closure of the long-running musical Hair, after 1,998 performances. The theatre almost fell victim to redevelopment, but a campaign by Equity succeeded in having the theatre placed on the 'Statutory List of Buildings of Special architectural or Historic Interest', and the theatre was Grade II listed by English Heritage in March 1974.[1]

The theatre reopened with West Side Story a year later. Long runs in the 1980s included They're Playing Our Song (1980) and Follies (1987). The next decade included long runs of Kiss of the Spider Woman (1992), Eddie Izzard: Definite Article (1995) and Rent (1998). During the redevelopment of the Royal Opera House in nearby Covent Garden in the late 1990s, the theatre was booked as an alternative London venue for performances including Benjamin Britten's Paul Bunyan. A series of musicals followed.

Present day

The venue is currently owned by The Theatre of Comedy Company, who have owned the venue since 1984.

In March 2006, the 1,400 seat theatre underwent a large refurbishment, with the entire stalls and dress circle being reseated, redecorated and the front of house areas refurbished. Since reopening, the theatre has hosted several revivals, including the European premiere of the Tony Award-winning Broadway hit Hairspray, which opened in October 2007 and will close in March 2010. Flashdance The Musical will open at the theatre in October 2010.

Notable productions

Recent notable productions

References

  1. ^ English Heritage listing details accessed 28 April 2007
  • Guide to British Theatres 1750-1950, John Earl and Michael Sell pp. 140-1 (Theatres Trust, 2000) ISBN 0-7136-5688-3
  • Who's Who in the Theatre, edited by John Parker, tenth edition, revised, London, 1947, p.1184.

Nearby Tube Stations

External links

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