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Historic year for West End theatres

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An historic number of West End theatres celebrate important anniversaries this year, including 80th birthdays for three theatres in September.

A boom in theatre building in the Art Deco 1930′s has resulted in six West End theatres celebrating their 80th anniversaries in 2010.

September proves a particularly important month, with three theatres celebrating their 80th: the Cambridge Theatre on Earlham Street on 4 September; Charing Cross Road’s Phoenix Theatre on 24 September; and the Trafalgar Studios on Whitehall, formerly known as the Whitehall Theatre, on 29 September.

Already this year the Prince Edward Theatre has celebrated its 80th birthday on 3 April, and later in the year the Apollo Victoria Theatre will mark its 80th on 15 October and the Adelphi Theatre on 3 December.

London Palladium in 1912, courtesy of The Theatres Trust

London Palladium in 1912, courtesy of The Theatres Trust

Celebrations will include a charity gala for the Apollo Victoria on 10 October featuring the cast of the venue’s current show, Wicked, and past productions including Starlight Express.

Advisory Body, The Theatres Trust, commented on the anniversaries: “The West End theatres that celebrate their 80th anniversaries this year are among the UK’s best examples of art deco and moderne style venues. Each is distinctive and unique, built to appeal to a public eager for entertainment, plays, films, variety and musicals. It is a mark of their quality that they continue to do so to this day.”

2010 also marks theatrical milestones for a number of other venues, notably the 100th anniversary of the famous London Palladium on 26 December. A special Facebook page has been set up for the London Palladium’s centenary allowing theatregoers and theatre professionals to remember the historic venue. Also, on Radio 2 this autumn a two-part documentary series, The London Palladium Story, will tell the story of the theatre, narrated by Michael Grade.

Also this year the Peacock Theatre, originally called the Royalty Theatre, will celebrate its 40th birthday in June, and the former Leicester Square Theatre, now the Odeon West End cinema, will turn 80.

QUICK THEATRE FACTS

Adelphi Theatre

Opened: 3 December 1930

Designed: Ernest Schaufelberg, incorporating parts of the former Sans Pareil theatre

Location: Strand, London, WC2E 7NA Adelphi Theatre Map

First production: Ever Green by Benn W. Levy and Lorenz Hart

Current production: Love Never Dies

Apollo Victoria Theatre

Opened: 15 October 1930

Designed: E. Wamsley Lewis and W E Trent

Location: 17 Wilton Road, London, SW1V 1LL Apollo Victoria Theatre Map

First production: originally opened as a cinema (film: George Arlis in Old English)

Current production: Wicked

Cambridge Theatre

Opened: 4 September 1930

Designed: Wimperis, Simpson and Guthrie with Serge Chermayeff

Location: Earlham Street, London, WC2 9HU Cambridge Theatre Map

First production: Charlot’s Masquerade by Ronald Jeans

Current production: Chicago

London Palladium

Opened: 26 December 1910

Designed: Frank Matcham

Location: London Palladium, Argyll Street, London, W1F 7TF London Palladium Map

First production: A Variety Show and one act play called The Conspiracy.

Current production: Sister Act

Peacock Theatre

Opened: June 1960

Designed: Lewis Solomon and Kaye and Partners

Location: Portugal Street, London, WC2A 2HT Peacock Theatre Map

First production: opened as a cinema

Current productions: include La Boheme, Euridice

Phoenix Theatre

Opened: 24 September 1930

Designed: Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, Bertie Crew, and Cecil Masey, with Theodore Komisarjevsky

Location: Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0JP Phoenix Theatre Map

First production: Noel Coward’s Private Lives

Current production: Blood Brothers

Prince Edward

Opened: 3 April 1930

Designed: Edward A. Stone with Marc-Henri and Laverdet and Gaston Laverdet

Location: Old Compton Street, London, W1D 4HS Prince Edward Theatre Map

First production: Rio Rita by Harry Tierney

Current production: Jersey Boys

Trafalgar Studios

Opened: 29 September 1930

Designed: Edward A. Stone with Marc-Henri and Laverdet and Gaston Laverdet

Location: Whitehall, London, SW1A 2DY Trafalgar Studios Map

First production: The Way To Treat A Woman by Walter Hackett

Current productions: include Shirley Valentine, Educating Rita, State Fair

LINKS:

The Theatres Trust

Arthur Lloyd website

Celebrations include a charity gala for the the Apollo Victoria on 10 October featuring the cast of the venue’s current show, Wicked, and past productions including Starlight Express.

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