Aldwych Theatre

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Aldwych Theatre
Aldwych Theatre 2.jpg
Aldwych Theatre in 2006
Address Aldwych
London, WC2
United Kingdom
Coordinates 51°30′47″N0°07′07″W / 51.512948°N 0.118634°W / 51.512948; -0.118634 Coordinates: 51°30′47″N0°07′07″W / 51.512948°N 0.118634°W / 51.512948; -0.118634
Public transit Underground no-text.svg Covent Garden
Owner James Nederlander
Designation Grade II
TypeWest End theatre
Capacity 1,200
Production Tina
Construction
Opened1905;114 years ago (1905)
Architect W. G. R. Sprague
Website
http://www.aldwychtheatre.com

The Aldwych Theatre is a West End theatre, located in Aldwych in the City of Westminster. It was listed Grade II on 20 July 1971. [1] Its seating capacity is 1,200 on three levels. [2]

Aldwych street, and area, in the City of Westminster in London

Aldwych is a one-way street and the name of the area immediately surrounding it in central London, England, within the City of Westminster. The 450 m street starts 600 m ENE of Charing Cross, the conventional map centre-point of the city. The area, unlike the adjoining Temple area, participated in the county of Middlesex until 1965. It forms part of the A4 road from London to Avonmouth, Bristol.

City of Westminster City and borough in London

The City of Westminster is an Inner London borough that also holds city status. It occupies much of the central area of Greater London including most of the West End. Historically in Middlesex, it is to the west of the ancient City of London, directly to the east of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and its southern boundary is the River Thames. The London borough was created with the 1965 establishment of Greater London. Upon its creation, it inherited the city status previously held by the smaller Metropolitan Borough of Westminster from 1900, which was first awarded to Westminster in 1540.

Listed building Collection of protected architectural creations in the United Kingdom

A listed building, or listed structure, is one that has been placed on one of the four statutory lists maintained by Historic England in England, Historic Environment Scotland in Scotland, Cadw in Wales, and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency in Northern Ireland.

Contents

History

Origins

The theatre was constructed in the newly built Aldwych as a pair with the Waldorf Theatre, now known as the Novello Theatre. Both buildings were designed in the Edwardian Baroque style by W. G. R. Sprague. The Aldwych Theatre was funded by Seymour Hicks in association with the American impresario Charles Frohman, and built by Walter Wallis of Balham.

Novello Theatre theatre in London

The Novello Theatre is a West End theatre on Aldwych, in the City of Westminster. It was known as the Strand Theatre between 1913 and 2005.

Edwardian Baroque architecture Neo-Baroque architectural style of many public buildings built in the British Empire during the Edwardian era

Edwardian Baroque is the Neo-Baroque architectural style of many public buildings built in the British Empire during the Edwardian era (1901–1910).

W. G. R. Sprague Australian architect, mainly known for theatres and cinemas

William George Robert Sprague was a theatre architect.

The theatre opened on 23 December 1905 with a production of Blue Bell, a new version of Hicks's popular pantomime Bluebell in Fairyland. In 1906, Hicks's The Beauty of Bath , followed in 1907 by The Gay Gordons , played at the theatre. In February 1913 the theatre was used by Serge Diaghilev and Vaslav Nijinsky for the first rehearsals of Le Sacre du Printemps before its première in Paris during May. [3] In 1920, Basil Rathbone played Major Wharton in The Unknown.

Pantomime form of musical comedy stage production, developed in the United Kingdom and mostly performed during Christmas and New Year season

Pantomime is a type of musical comedy stage production designed for family entertainment. It was developed in England and is performed throughout the United Kingdom, Ireland and in other English-speaking countries, especially during the Christmas and New Year season. Modern pantomime includes songs, gags, slapstick comedy and dancing. It employs gender-crossing actors and combines topical humour with a story more or less based on a well-known fairy tale, fable or folk tale. It is a participatory form of theatre, in which the audience is expected to sing along with certain parts of the music and shout out phrases to the performers.

<i>The Beauty of Bath</i> musical

The Beauty of Bath is a musical comedy with a book by Seymour Hicks and Cosmo Hamilton, lyrics by C. H. Taylor and music by Herbert Haines; additional songs were provided by Jerome Kern, F. Clifford Harris (lyrics) and P. G. Wodehouse (lyrics). Based loosely on the play David Garrick, the story concerns a young woman from a noble family, who falls in love with an actor. She then meets a sailor who appears identical to the actor and mistakes him for the latter. Her father objects to a marriage with the actor, but when it turns out that she really loves the sailor, all objections fall away.

<i>The Gay Gordons</i> (musical) musical

The Gay Gordons is a 1907 Edwardian musical comedy with a book by Seymour Hicks, music by Guy Jones and lyrics by Arthur Wimperis, C. H. Bovill, Henry Hamilton and P. G. Wodehouse, who wrote the lyrics to "Now That My Ship's Come Home" and "You, You, You". The title refers to both the Clan Gordon and the famed Scottish regiment the Gordon Highlanders as the plot involves the heir to the clan and a soldier from the regiment.

From 1923 to 1933, the theatre was the home of the series of twelve farces, known as the Aldwych farces, most of which were written by Ben Travers. Members of the regular company for these farces included Ralph Lynn, Tom Walls, Ethel Coleridge, Gordon James, Mary Brough, Winifred Shotter and Robertson Hare. [4] In 1933, Richard Tauber presented and starred in a new version of Das Dreimäderlhaus at the Aldwych under the title Lilac Time. From the mid-1930s until about 1960, the theatre was owned by the Abrahams family. [5]

Aldwych farce

The Aldwych farces were a series of twelve stage farces presented at the Aldwych Theatre, London, nearly continuously from 1923 to 1933. All but three of them were written by Ben Travers. They incorporate and develop British low comedy styles, combined with clever word-play. The plays were presented by the actor-manager Tom Walls and starred Walls and Ralph Lynn, supported by a regular company that included Robertson Hare, Mary Brough, Winifred Shotter, Ethel Coleridge and Gordon James.

Ben Travers English writer of plays, screenplays, novels, and three memoirs

Ben Travers CBE AFC was an English writer. His output includes more than twenty plays, thirty screenplays, five novels, and three volumes of memoirs. He is best remembered for his long-running series of farces first staged in the 1920s and 1930s at the Aldwych Theatre. Many of these were made into films and later television productions.

Ralph Lynn English actor

Ralph Clifford Lynn was an English actor who had a 60-year career, and is best remembered for playing comedy parts in the Aldwych farces first on stage and then in film.

Post-war years and the Royal Shakespeare Company

In 1949 Laurence Olivier directed the first London production of Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire at the Aldwych Theatre. Starring as Blanche DuBois was Olivier's wife Vivien Leigh, who later won an Academy Award for the role in the 1951 film of Williams's play. Bonar Colleano co-starred as Stanley.

Laurence Olivier English actor, director and producer

Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier, was an English actor and director who, along with his contemporaries Ralph Richardson, Peggy Ashcroft and John Gielgud, dominated the British stage of the mid-20th century. He also worked in films throughout his career, playing more than fifty cinema roles. Late in his career, he had considerable success in television roles.

Tennessee Williams American playwright

Thomas Lanier Williams III, known by his pen name Tennessee Williams, was an American playwright. Along with contemporaries Eugene O'Neill and Arthur Miller, he is considered among the three foremost playwrights of 20th-century American drama.

Vivien Leigh British actress

Vivien Leigh was an English stage and film actress.

On 15 December 1960, after intense speculation, it was announced that the Royal Shakespeare Company, headquartered in Stratford-upon-Avon and under the directorship of Peter Hall (director) was to make the Aldwych Theatre its base in London for the next three years. In the event the company stayed for over 20 years, finally moving to the Barbican Arts Centre in 1982. The theatre was sold to the Nederlander Organization immediately afterwards. [6] Among numerous RSC productions staged at this venue were The Wars of the Roses , "Ondine" with Peter Hall's wife Leslie Caron, The Greeks, and Nicholas Nickleby , as well as the transfer of most of the Shakespeare productions that were first staged at the RSC's Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford. During absences of the RSC, the theatre hosted the annual World Theatre Seasons, foreign plays in their original productions, invited to London by the theatre impresario Peter Daubeny, annually from 1964 to 1973 and finally in 1975. For his involvement with these Aldwych seasons, run without Arts Council or other official support, Daubeny won the Evening Standard special award in 1972.

Royal Shakespeare Company British theatre company

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is a major British theatre company, based in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England. The company employs over 1,000 staff and produces around 20 productions a year. The RSC plays regularly in London, Newcastle upon Tyne and on tour across the UK and internationally.

Stratford-upon-Avon Town in Warwickshire, England

Stratford-upon-Avon, commonly known as just Stratford, is a market town and civil parish in the Stratford-on-Avon District, in the county of Warwickshire, England, on the River Avon, 91 miles (146 km) north west of London, 22 miles (35 km) south east of Birmingham, and 8 miles (13 km) south west of Warwick. The estimated population in 2007 was 25,505, increasing to 27,445 at the 2011 Census.

Peter Hall (director) English theatre and film director

Sir Peter Reginald Frederick Hall, CBE, was an English theatre, opera and film director. His obituary in The Times declared him "the most important figure in British theatre for half a century" and on his death, a Royal National Theatre statement declared that Hall's "influence on the artistic life of Britain in the 20th century was unparalleled".

In 1990–91, Joan Collins starred in a revival of Private Lives at the Aldwych. The theatre is referred to in Julio Cortázar's short story Instructions for John Howell (Instrucciones para John Howell) in the anthology All Fires the Fire ( Todos los fuegos el fuego ).

21st century

Since 2000, the theatre has hosted a mixture of plays, comedies and musical theatre productions. Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Whistle Down the Wind played until 2001, and Fame enjoyed an extended run from 2002 to 2006. From 2006 to 2011, it was the home to the British musical version of Dirty Dancing . [7] [8] Beautiful: The Carole King Musical ran from 2015 to 2017.

In March 2018, the theatre opened the world premiere of Tina: The Tina Turner Musical.

Productions

Recent and current productions


Notes

  1. Aldwych Theatre listing details – English Heritage. Retrieved 3 April 2007
  2. "Aldwych Theatre Seating Plan".
  3. Lucas, John. Thomas Beecham: An Obsession With Music, Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2008, p. 94. ISBN   978-1-84383-402-1
  4. "Mr Ralph Lynn", The Times, 10 August 1962, p. 11
  5. Theatre Postcard site. Retrieved 19 March 2007
  6. "Aldwych sold for $2.1 million", The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 January 1982, p. 8. Retrieved 26 July 2013
  7. Winterman, Denise (24 October 2006). "The Time of Your Life". BBC News. Archived from the original on 29 May 2007. Retrieved 15 May 2007.
  8. "The insider's guide to 'Dirty Dancing'". CNN. 25 October 2006. Retrieved 26 May 2007.
  9. "Top Hat to transfer into the West End next April". The Stage. 11 November 2011. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
  10. "Top Hat confirms October closure at Aldwych". whatsonstage.com. Whats on Stage. 21 June 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
  11. "Andrew Lloyd Webber's Stephen Ward Will Premiere at West End's Aldwych Theatre in December". Playbill. 27 June 2013. Archived from the original on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
  12. "Andrew Lloyd Webber's STEPHEN WARD to Close at the Aldwych Theatre, March 29". broadwayworld.com. Broadway World. 24 February 2014. Retrieved 24 February 2014.

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<i>Stephen Ward</i> (musical) musical

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References

Nearby tube stations