The two facades of the Greenwich Theatre, to either side of the Rose and Crown pub, on 3 February 2007
|Architect||B Meeking (1969 rebuild)|
|Rebuilt||1871, 1898, 1969|
|Other names||1855 Rose and Crown Music Hall
1871 Crowder's Music Hall
1879 Royal Borough Theatre of Varieties
1897 Greenwich Hippodrome
1898 Parthenon Theatre of Varieties
The building was originally a music hall created in 1855 as part of the neighbouring Rose and Crown public house, but the Rose and Crown Music Hall was reconstructed in 1871 and renamed Crowder's Music Hall. It briefly rejoiced in the name 'Crowder's Music Hall and Temple of Varieties', but was renamed in 1879 as Royal Borough Theatre of Varieties. This name lasted less than 20 years. After a brief spell as the Greenwich Hippodrome, it was rebuilt in 1898 and became the Parthenon Theatre of Varieties.
Having shown both live performances and films since 1915, in 1924 it was converted into a cinema. In 1949, the building was closed and it took a concerted campaign to save it from demolition during the 1960s. After substantial alterations, the building eventually reopened as the Greenwich Theatre in 1969 under Artistic Director Ewan Hooper and Director Alan Vaughan Williams, who directed the opening production and world premiere of Martin Luther King, written by Ewan Hooper. In 1975, Vivien Merchant and Timothy Dalton headed the cast of a revival of Noël Coward's The Vortex.
It had to survive a further crisis in the late 1990s prompted by the 1997 withdrawal of its annual subsidy from the London Arts Board. It eventually reopened in November 1999.
The seating capacity is currently 421, around an open thrust stage.
From 1969, the theatre became a showcase for many new dramatic works. Early plays included Chekhov's Three Sisters and Jean Genet's The Maids, featuring Glenda Jackson, Susannah York and Vivien Merchant - many of the Greenwich cast featured in the subsequent film version. Greenwich Theatre also saw the première of John Mortimer's A Voyage Round My Father and, on 5 November 1981, Rupert Everett appeared in the 1981 première of Another Country - another play which successfully transferred to celluloid, having also won accolades in the West End.
In 2009, the theatre returned to producing, collaborating with a new company, Stage on Screen, to stage and film plays, making them available on DVD for theatre lovers and students. The first two productions were Dr Faustus and The School for Scandal, followed in 2010 by Volpone and The Duchess of Malfi.
In 2013, Sell a Door Theatre Company partnered with the Greenwich Theatre following nine productions at the South London venue. James Haddrell and David Hutchinson officially announced the partnership on November 19, 2013.
- Greenwich Playhouse a studio style theatre in Greenwich (now closed).
- "The Vortex (1975–1976)", Timothy Dalton - Shakespearean James Bond, accessed June 28, 2012
- The Maids (1974) at the Internet Movie Database
- A Voyage Round My Father (1982) at the Internet Movie Database
- Another Country (1984) at the Internet Movie Database
- "Greenwich Theatre Partners with Sell a Door". The Stage. 19 November 2013.
- Guide to British Theatres 1750-1950, John Earl and Michael Sell pp. 113–4 (Theatres Trust, 2000) ISBN 0-7136-5688-3
- Greenwich Theatre website
- Theatres and Halls in Greenwich, London (Arthur Lloyd, theatre history)
- Stage on Screen website