Aldwych Theatre in 2006
|Address|| Aldwych |
|Type||West End theatre|
|Architect||W. G. R. Sprague|
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.Its seating capacity is 1,200 on three levels.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 is the Neo-Baroque architectural style of many public buildings built in the British Empire during the Edwardian era (1901–1910).
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.In 1920, Basil Rathbone played Major Wharton in The Unknown.
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.
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.
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.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.
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 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 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.
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 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.
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 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.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.
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, 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.
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 ).
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 .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.
Timothy Lancaster West, CBE is an English film, stage and television actor, with more than fifty years of varied work in the business. As well as many classical theatre performances, he has appeared frequently on television, including spells in both Coronation Street as Eric Babbage and Stan Carter in EastEnders, and also in Not Going Out, as the original Geoffrey Adams. He is married to the actress Prunella Scales; since 2014 they have been seen travelling together on British and overseas canals in the Channel 4 series Great Canal Journeys.
The Royal National Theatre in London, commonly known as the National Theatre (NT), is one of the United Kingdom's three most prominent publicly funded performing arts venues, alongside the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Opera House. Internationally, it is known as the National Theatre of Great Britain.
The Gielgud Theatre is a West End theatre, located on Shaftesbury Avenue in the City of Westminster, London, at the corner of Rupert Street. The house currently has 986 seats on three levels.
Samantha Bond is an English actress, perhaps best known for playing Miss Moneypenny in four James Bond films during the series' Pierce Brosnan years, and for her role on Downton Abbey as the wealthy widow Lady Rosamund Painswick, sister of Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham. She is also well-known for originating the role of "Miz Liz" Probert in the Rumpole of the Bailey series. Bond is a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Michael Vivian Fyfe Pennington is a British actor, director and writer. Together with director Michael Bogdanov, he founded the English Shakespeare Company in 1986 and was its Joint Artistic Director until 1992. He has written ten books, directed in the UK, US, Romania and Japan, and is an Honorary Associate Artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
John Wood, was an English actor noted for his performances in Shakespeare and for his long association with Tom Stoppard.
The Duchess Theatre is a West End theatre in the City of Westminster, London, located in Catherine Street near Aldwych.
Forbes Masson is a Scottish actor and writer. He is an Associate Artist with the Royal Shakespeare Company. He is best known for his roles in classical theatre, musicals. comedies and appearances in London's West End. He is also known for his comedy partnership with Alan Cumming. Masson and Cumming wrote The High Life, a Scottish situation comedy in which they play the lead characters, Steve McCracken and Sebastian Flight. Characters McCracken and Flight were heavily based on Victor and Barry, famous Scottish comedy alter-egos of Masson and Cumming.
Lynn Farleigh is an English actress of stage and screen.
Kevin Gerard Wallace is a theatre producer.
Alan MacKenzie Howard, CBE was an English actor. He was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1966 to 1983, and played leading roles at the Royal National Theatre between 1992 and 2000.
Jack O'Brien is an American director, producer, writer and lyricist. He served as the Artistic Director of the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California from 1981 through the end of 2007.
David Hugh Jones was an English stage, television and film director.
Theatre of United Kingdom plays an important part in British culture, and the countries that constitute the UK have had a vibrant tradition of theatre since the Renaissance with roots going back to the Roman occupation.
William Dudley RDI is a British theatre designer.
Alex Gaumond is a Canadian actor, singer and songwriter known mainly for his involvement in West End theatre.
Top Hat the Musical is a 2011 stage musical based on the 1935 film of the same name, featuring music and lyrics by Irving Berlin with additional orchestration by Chris Walker. The show opened on 16 August 2011 at the Milton Keynes Theatre, touring the United Kingdom before transferring to the Aldwych Theatre in London's West End. Top Hat won multiple 2013 Laurence Olivier Awards after receiving seven nominations. The musical closed in London on 26 October 2013, with a UK and Ireland tour commencing in August 2014.
Stephen Ward is a musical with a book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Based on the real life events behind the 1963 Profumo Affair, the musical made its West End and world premiere at London's Aldwych Theatre in 2013.
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