Cambridge Theatre in 2011
|Address||Earlham Street, Seven Dials|
|Public transit||Covent Garden|
|Type||West End theatre|
|Capacity||1,231 on 3 levels|
|Production||Matilda the Musical|
|Opened||4 September 1930|
|Architect||Wimperis, Simpson & Guthrie|
The Cambridge Theatre is a West End theatre, on a corner site in Earlham Street facing Seven Dials, in the London Borough of Camden, built in 1929–30 for Bertie Meyer on an "irregular triangular site".
Design and construction
It was designed by Wimperis, Simpson and Guthrie; interior partly by Serge Chermayeff, with interior bronze friezes by sculptor Anthony Gibbons Grinling. The theatre is built in steel and concrete and is notable for its elegant and clean lines of design. The theatre was refurbished in 1950—the original gold and silver décor was painted over in red, and candelabras and chandeliers were added. In 1987, to restore the original décor, the theatre was once again refurbished, this time by Carl Toms. The theatre has a circular entrance foyer, with Grinling's bronze frieze depicting nude figures in exercise poses, the theme continues into the main foyer, with dancing nudes, marble pilaster up lighters and concealed lighting.
English Heritage notes:
the Cambridge Theatre is a rare, complete and early example of a London theatre adopting the moderne, expressionist style pioneered in Germany during the 1920s. It marked a conscious reaction to the design excesses of the music hall and contemporary cinemas. Theatres looked for a new style appropriate to the greater sophistication of their entertainment and found it in the Germanic moderne forms of simple shapes enlivened by concealed lighting, shiny steelwork and touches of bright colour; this was not taken up by cinema designers until 1935.
The theatre was Grade II listed in January 1999.
Productions at the Cambridge Theatre have been characterised by relatively short runs interspersed with several dark periods and the theatre was used for trade film shows in the late 1930s and again in 1969 as a cinema.
Notable productions include Joan Sims in Breath of spring by Peter Coke in 1958, Tommy Steele in Half a Sixpence in 1963 (678 performances), Bruce Forsyth in Little Me in 1964 (334 performances), The Black Mikado (1975–76), and in the late 1970s the Kander and Ebb musical Chicago ran for 590 performances. More recently the rock and roll musical Return to the Forbidden Planet, which was based on Shakespeare's The Tempest and used 1950s and 1960s songs opened in September 1989 and lasted until early 1993, winning the Olivier Award for Best New Musical—beating the favourite, Miss Saigon.
The controversial show Jerry Springer: The Opera had a run from 14 October 2003 – 19 February 2005. This was followed by a month run of illusionist Derren Brown's Something Wicked This Way Comes tour, before the London première of Flying Music's Dancing in the Streets, which opened on 7 July 2005. This finished its run on 22 April 2006 and Chicago moved across Theatreland from the Adelphi Theatre to continue its London run into its tenth year at the theatre that originally hosted the show in the 1970s. It opened at the Cambridge on Friday 28 April. Chicago cancelled all performances post 27 August 2011, when it closed at the theatre. Matilda the Musical commenced performances at The Cambridge from 18 October 2011, with an official opening night on 22 November 2011. As of April 2017, Matilda became the longest running production in the theatre's history.
- Grease (24 October 1996 – 11 September 1999) by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, starring at various times Shane Richie and Ben Richards
- Great Balls of Fire (6 October 1999 – 18 December 1999)
- The Beautiful Game (26 September 2000 – 1 September 2001) by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ben Elton
- Fame (20 September 2001 – 31 August 2002)
- Our House (28 October 2002 – 16 August 2003) by Madness and Tim Firth
- Jerry Springer: The Opera (14 October 2003 – 19 February 2005), starring David Soul
- Something Wicked this Way Comes (2 June 2005 – 2 July 2005), by Andy Nyman and Derren Brown
- Dancing in the Streets (19 July 2005 – 22 April 2006)
- Chicago (27 April 2006 – 27 August 2011)
- Matilda the Musical (24 November 2011 –)
- Further reading
- Earl, John; Sell, Michael (2000). Guide to British Theatres 1750–1950. Theatres Trust. p. 102. ISBN 0-7136-5688-3.
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