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Cambridge Theatre

Coordinates: 51°30′49″N 0°07′36″W / 51.51364°N 0.12653°W / 51.51364; -0.12653
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Cambridge Theatre
Cambridge Theatre in 2011
AddressEarlham Street, Seven Dials
London, WC2
United Kingdom
Coordinates51°30′49″N 0°07′36″W / 51.51364°N 0.12653°W / 51.51364; -0.12653
Public transitLondon Underground Covent Garden
OwnerLW Theatres
DesignationGrade II
TypeWest End theatre
Capacity1,231 on 3 levels
ProductionMatilda the Musical
Opened4 September 1930; 93 years ago (1930-09-04)
ArchitectWimperis, Simpson & Guthrie
The frieze above the entrance.

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".[1]

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.[2] The theatre is built in steel and concrete and is known 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.[2]

English Heritage observes:

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.[2]

The theatre was Grade II listed in January 1999.



An early production staged on October 19, 1930, by Ninette De Valois future creator and for many years central figure of the Royal Ballet. She both choreographed (Danse sacree et danse profane, Debussy), and danced (Nicholas Legat's Variations and Coda, Glinka, partnered by Anton Dolin). [3]

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.

Productions have included 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. Later, the rock and roll musical Return to the Forbidden Planet, which was based on the film Forbidden Planet and Shakespeare's The Tempest using 1950s and 1960s songs opened in September 1989 and ran until early 1993, winning the Olivier Award for Best New Musical—instead of the favourite, Miss Saigon.[4]

The show Jerry Springer: The Opera ran 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.

Recent Productions

Matilda sign illuminated during the night


  1. ^ Kilburn, Michael; Kilburn, Mike (2002). London's Theatres. New Holland Publishers. p. 30. ISBN 978-1-84330-069-4.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ a b c English Heritage listing details. Retrieved 28 April 2007
  3. ^ Nanette De Valois, Idealist without illusions,by Kathine Sorley Walker with contributions by Dame Ninette ISBN 1 85273061 7.
  4. ^ Theatre History. Retrieved 28 April 2007
Further reading
  • Earl, John; Sell, Michael (2000). Guide to British Theatres 1750–1950. Theatres Trust. p. 102. ISBN 0-7136-5688-3.