Phoenix Theatre (London)
Phoenix Theatre, July 2007
|Address||Charing Cross Road|
|Architect||Giles Gilbert Scott, Bertie Crewe and Cecil Massey|
|Owned by||Ambassador Theatre Group|
|Capacity||1,012 on 3 levels|
|Type||West End theatre|
|Opened||24 September 1930|
|Phoenix Theatre website at Ambassador Theatre Group|
The theatre was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, Bertie Crewe and Cecil Massey and is Grade II listed. It has a restrained neoclassical exterior, but an interior designed in an Italianate style by director and designer Theodore Komisarjevsky. It opened on 24 September 1930 with the première of Private Lives by Noël Coward, who also appeared in the play, with Adrienne Allen, Gertrude Lawrence and a then young Laurence Olivier. Coward returned to the theatre with Tonight at 8:30 in 1936 and Quadrille in 1952. On 16 December 1969, the long association with Coward was celebrated with a midnight matinee in honour of his 70th birthday, and the foyer bar was renamed the Noel Coward Bar.
The Phoenix has had a number of successful plays including John Gielgud's Love for Love during the Second World War. Harlequinade and The Browning Version, two plays by Terence Rattigan, opened on 8 September 1948 at the theatre.
In the mid-1950s, Paul Scofield and Peter Brook appeared at the theatre. In 1968, a musical version of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales opened and ran for around two thousand performances. Night and Day, a 1978 play by Tom Stoppard, ran for two years.
The theatre hosted many musicals in the 1980s and 1990s, including The Biograph Girl with Sheila White, The Baker's Wife by Stephen Schwartz directed by Trevor Nunn, and Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim, starring Julia McKenzie. There were also a number of plays by William Shakespeare.
The production of Blood Brothers, the Willy Russell musical that transferred from The Albery Theatre in November 1991, ended a 21-year run on 10 November 2012 after becoming the longest-running production at the theatre. Following limited engagements of Goodnight Mr Tom and Midnight Tango, the theatre will host the original West End production of Broadway musical Once, which opens in April 2013.
The theatre is owned by the Ambassador Theatre Group.
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- Guide to British Theatres 1750-1950, John Earl and Michael Sell pp. 131 (Theatres Trust, 2000) ISBN 0-7136-5688-3
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