Novelty Theatre

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Novelty Theatre
Folies Dramatiques Theatre
Jodrell Theatre
New Queen's Theatre
Eden Palace of Varieties
Great Queen Street Theatre
Kingsway Theatre
AddressGreat Queen Street
Camden, London
Coordinates51°30′55″N 0°07′16″W / 51.515151°N 0.121212°W / 51.515151; -0.121212Coordinates: 51°30′55″N 0°07′16″W / 51.515151°N 0.121212°W / 51.515151; -0.121212
Current usesite of office block
Opened9 December 1882
Closed11 May 1941
ArchitectThomas Verity

The Novelty Theatre (later renamed the Great Queen Street Theatre from 1900 to 1907, and the Kingsway Theatre from 1907 to 1941) was a London theatre. It opened in 1882 in Great Queen Street and was accessed off Little Queen Street until 1905, and from the new Kingsway road from 1905 onwards. It hosted the London premiere of A Doll's House in 1889. The theatre closed in 1941 and was demolished in 1959.


The first theatre on the site was built to designs by Thomas Verity with decorations by E. W. Bradwell, and opened on 9 December 1882. Its first show was the comic opera Melita or the Parsee's Daughter,[1] composed by Henry Pontet, with a libretto by Juba Kennerley.[2][3] It hosted, among other notable works, a revival of Les Cloches de Corneville and Ascot, by Percy Fendall, in 1883.[4] Edward Solomon and James Mortimer's Polly or The Pet of the Regiment played at the theatre in 1884.[5] The Blue Bells of Scotland, by Robert Williams Buchanan, premiered at the theatre in 1887, followed by James Mortimer's The Alderman and Fred Marsden's Bob, both in 1888.[6] The Russian National Opera Company produced The Demon at the Novelty in 1888, and the theatre hosted the London premiere of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House in 1889. In August 1896, Wilfred Moritz Franks accidentally stabbed Temple E. Crozier fatally onstage during a performance of Frank Harvey's melodrama, Sins of the Night.[7] The Merchant of Venice was presented at the theatre in 1897.[8]

Its interior was rebuilt in 1898-1900 and 1907, reopening after the two reconstructions as the Great Queen Street Theatre (1900–1907) and Kingsway Theatre (1907–1941) respectively. From 1900 to 1907, W. S. Penley managed the theatre, producing and starring in A Little Ray of Sunshine by Mark Ambient and revivals of The Private Secretary and Charley's Aunt in 1900.[9] It also featured the 1915 premiere of Pearn and Elgar's The Starlight Express and the London premiere of the musical Oh, Boy! in 1919, which ran for 167 performances. In 1934 Winifred Carter's historical play The Queen Who Kept Her Head appeared at the theatre.[10]

In 1939 it hosted the premiere of Rutland Boughton's third symphony and finally closed on 11 May 1941. It was heavily bomb-damaged during the Blitz and remained closed until its demolition in 1959. Its site is now occupied by an extension of Newton Street into Great Queen Street, and an office block.


  1. ^ "Novelty Theatre, Great Queen Street, Holborn, London", Arthur Lloyd (2008)
  2. ^ Melita, or, The Parsee's daughter, J.C. Williamson collection of performance materials, National Library of Australia
  3. ^ The theatre was also the subject of many other short-lived name changes, each time reverting to its original name - from 29 March 1883 to 5 January 1884 it was known as the Folies Dramatique Theatre; from 22 October 1888 to 7 June 1889 as the Jodrell Theatre; from 4 August to 30 August 1890 as the New Queen's Theatre; and from March to August 1894 as the Eden Palace of Varieties. See this 2008 Arthur Lloyd article.
  4. ^ Adams, p. 84
  5. ^ Edward Solomon at the Musical Theatre Guide website
  6. ^ Adams, pp. 31, 177 and 179
  7. ^ Description of Crozier's death in The Sketch, 19 August 1896, reprinted in The Victorian Dictionary at the Victorian London website
  8. ^ "The Merchant of Venice", Archived 18 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine Shakespeare and the Players, Emory University (2003 Emory University)
  9. ^ Stone, David. W. S. Penley Biography, Who Was Who in the D'Oyly Carte]
  10. ^ Wearing, J. P. The London Stage: 1930−1939, Rowman & Littlefield (2014), p. 342


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