Shaftesbury Theatre in January 2012
|Owned by||The Theatre of Comedy Company|
|Type||West End Theatre|
|Opened||26 December 1911|
|Other names||New Prince's Theatre
|Production||The Pajama Game|
The theatre was designed for the brothers Walter and Frederick Melville by Bertie Crewe and opened on 26 December 1911 with a production of The Three Musketeers, as the New Prince's Theatre, becoming the Prince's Theatre in 1914. It had a capacity of 2,392 and a stage 31' 10" wide by 31' deep.
The Prince's was the last theatre to be built in Shaftesbury Avenue, and is located near New Oxford Street, perhaps explaining the many gaps between performances in its early years. It had considerable success with an 18 week season of Gilbert and Sullivan operas, presented by the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, in 1919. These became a regular attraction at the theatre in the 1920s, interspersed with runs of theatre productions transferred from other venues. Basil Rathbone appeared at the Prince's Theatre in May 1933 when he played Julian Beauclerc in a revival of Diplomacy. The Rose of Persia was revived at the theatre in 1935. The D'Oyly Carte returned in 1942.
The theatre was sold to EMI in 1962, and became the Shaftesbury Theatre the following year. Broadway productions that transferred to the theatre for long runs in the 1960s included Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1962)and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1963).
Part of the ceiling fell in on 20 July 1973, forcing the closure of the long-running musical Hair, after 1,998 performances. The theatre almost fell victim to redevelopment, but a campaign by Equity succeeded in having the theatre placed on the 'Statutory List of Buildings of Special architectural or Historic Interest', and the theatre was Grade II listed by English Heritage in March 1974.
The theatre reopened with West Side Story a year later. Long runs in the 1980s included They're Playing Our Song (1980) and Follies (1987). The next decade included long runs of Kiss of the Spider Woman (1992), Eddie Izzard: Definite Article (1995) and Rent (1998). During the redevelopment of the Royal Opera House in nearby Covent Garden in the late 1990s, the theatre was booked as an alternative London venue for performances including Benjamin Britten's Paul Bunyan. A series of musicals followed.
The venue is currently owned by the Theatre of Comedy Company, who have owned the venue since 1984.
In March 2006, the 1,400 seat theatre underwent an internal refurbishment, with the entire auditorium being reseated and recarpeted and the front of house areas redecorated. Since reopening, the theatre has hosted several revivals, including the European premiere of the Tony Award-winning Broadway hit Hairspray, which opened in October 2007 and closed in March 2010. Flashdance The Musical open in September 2010 and closing in January 2011.
- Carmen (premiere of 1949 ballet)
- Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1962)
- How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1963–64)
- Twang! (1965–66)
- Hair (20 September 1968 – 20 July 1973)
- West Side Story (1974)
- They're Playing Our Song (1 October 1980 – 8 May 1982)
- Two Into One (1984)
- Follies (July 1987 – February 1989)
- Out Of Order (1990)
- Kiss of the Spider Woman (20 October 1992 – 17 July 1993) by John Kander and Fred Ebb, starring Chita Rivera
- Carousel (16 September 1993 – 27 March 1994) by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II
- Tommy (5 March 1996 – 8 February 1997) by The Who and Des McAnuff
- Rent (12 May 1998 – 30 October 1999) by Jonathan Larson
- Thoroughly Modern Millie (21 October 2003 – 26 June 2004), starring Amanda Holden and Maureen Lipman
- Bat Boy: The Musical (27 August 2004 – 15 January 2005) by Keythe Farley, Brian Flemming and Laurence O'Keefe, starring Deven May
- The Far Pavilions – The Musical (24 March 2005 – 17 September 2005), starring Kulvinder Ghir
- Daddy Cool – The Musical (15 August 2006 – 17 February 2007) by Frank Farian, starring Michelle Collins, Javine Hylton and Harvey Junior
- Fame: The Musical (4 May 2007 – 1 September 2007) by Jacques Levy and Steve Margoshes, starring Ian Watkins and Natalie Casey
- Hairspray: The Musical (11 October 2007 – 28 March 2010 ) by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. Originally starring Michael Ball, Leanne Jones, Mel Smith and Tracie Bennett.
- Burn The Floor (21 July 2010 - 4 September 2010) starring Ali Bastian
- Flashdance (26 September 2010 - 15 January 2011)
- Comedy Rush (2 performances only: 24 February 2011 and 24 March 2011)
- Derren Brown - Svengali (June 8, 2011 - July 16, 2011)
- Rock of Ages - (27 September 2011 – 6 January 2013) transferred to the Garrick Theatre
- Burn the Floor - (11 March 2013 - 30 June 2013)
- From Here to Eternity the Musical - (30 September 2013 - 29 March 2014)
- The Pajama Game (2 May 2014 - 13 September 2014)
- Memphis (9 October 2014 - 28 March 2015)
- English Heritage listing details accessed 28 April 2007
- "Burn the Floor posts early closing notices at Shaftesbury, 30 June". whatsonstage.com. Whats On Stage. 26 April 2013. Retrieved 30 June 2013.
- "Tim Rice musical set for West End". bbc.co.uk. BBC News. 26 October 2012. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
- "The Pajama Game". Shaftesbury Theatre. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
- "Memphis". Shaftesbury Theatre. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
- Guide to British Theatres 1750–1950, John Earl and Michael Sell pp. 140–1 (Theatres Trust, 2000) ISBN 0-7136-5688-3
- Who's Who in the Theatre, edited by John Parker, tenth edition, revised, London, 1947, p. 1184.
Nearby Tube Stations
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Shaftesbury Theatre.|
- Theatre History
- Shaftesbury Theatre
- Scenes from the 1921–22 D'Oyly Carte season at the theatre
- Theatre of Comedy