- Noël Coward Theatre
Noël Coward Theatre
New Theatre, postcard, circa 1905
Address St Martin's Lane City Westminster, London Designation Grade II listed Architect W.G.R. Sprague Owned by Delfont Mackintosh Capacity 872 on 4 levels Type West End theatre Opened 1903 Previous names New Theatre
Production Million Dollar Quartet www.delfontmackintosh.co.uk/Theatres/noel_coward.php
The Noël Coward Theatre, formerly known as the Albery Theatre, is a West End theatre on St. Martin's Lane in the City of Westminster. It opened on 12 March 1903 as the New Theatre, and was built by Sir Charles Wyndham behind Wyndham's Theatre which was completed in 1899. The building was designed by architect W.G.R. Sprague with an exterior in the Classical style and an interior in the Rococo style.
In 1973 it was renamed the Albery Theatre in tribute to the late Sir Bronson Albery who had presided as its manager for many years. Since September 2005, the theatre has been owned by Delfont-Mackintosh Ltd. It underwent major refurbishment in 2006, and was renamed the Noël Coward Theatre when it re-opened for the London premiere of Avenue Q on 1 June 2006. Noël Coward, one of Britain's greatest playwrights and actors, appeared in his own play, I'll Leave It To You, at the then New Theatre in 1920, the first West End production of one of his plays.
The theatre seats 872 patrons on four levels. The building is now a Grade II Listed structure.
After opening in 1903 with a production of Rosemary starring Charles Wyndham and his wife, Mary Moore, the Noël Coward Theatre has hosted a number of notable productions. I'll Leave it to You, in 1920, was Coward's first play. George Bernard Shaw's St. Joan with an acclaimed performance by actress Sybil Thorndike ran in 1924.
The 1930s saw the greatest commercial success of John Gielgud's career, Richard of Bordeaux (1933). Gielgud followed up this triumph with a legendary production of Hamlet in which he both played the title role and directed a company that included Jessica Tandy, Jack Hawkins, and a young Alec Guinness in one of his first professional roles as Osric. Gielgud also appeared with Laurence Olivier, Peggy Ashcroft and Edith Evans in Romeo and Juliet. With the Blitz came the destruction of the theatres that were home to the Old Vic and Sadler's Wells Theatre Companies. Both companies made the New Theatre home until their respective theatres were rebuilt in the 1950s. One of the most successful shows to play the New Theatre opened 30 June 1960, it was Lionel Bart's musical retelling of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, Oliver!. It ran for 2,618 performances.
A 1974 Royal Shakespeare Company production of Dion Boucicault's London Assurance, directed by Ronald Eyre, with Donald Sinden as Sir Harcourt Courtly, (for which he received the 1975 Drama Desk Special Award) Roger Rees as Charles, Judi Dench as Grace and Dinsdale Landen as Dazzle, transferred to the Albery Theatre in London for a year, prior to its tour to New York.
In 1981, Children of a Lesser God won Olivier Awards for Best New Play and for actors Trevor Eve and Elizabeth Quinn. Among some of the notable productions recently is the 1994 revival of Turgenev's A Month in the Country starring Helen Mirren and John Hurt.
Recently, the theatre has played host to some notable Shakespeare productions including a production of Twelfth Night set in India with an entirely Asian cast. The production played to packed houses and only closed as the Royal Shakespeare Company themselves had exclusive rights to perform their annual London season of Tragedies there. Between December 2004 and April 2005, they presented Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth, King Lear and a brand new production of Euripides' Hecuba starring Vanessa Redgrave.
On 8 June 2005, Dion Boucicault's Victorian melodrama The Shaughraun opened; however, its success at the Dublin Gate Theatre was not repeated in London and it closed on 30 July. A dark period of around three months followed before the theatre was transferred to the ownership of Delfont Mackintosh Limited and reopened in October 2005 with The Right Size's new production Ducktastic!. Once again this failed to live up to expectations and closed just three weeks after opening on 19 November 2005. A short Christmas season of Patrick Stewart's one-man version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol played from 6 December to 31 December 2005, before the theatre hosted the Edinburgh International Festival hit drama Blackbird starring Roger Allam. The European premiere of the Broadway hit, Avenue Q, started previewing on 2 June 2006 and had its opening night on 28 June 2006, finally closing on 28 March 2009 prior to transferring to the Gielgud Theatre.
Following a production of Deathtrap, directed by Matthew Warchus and starring Simon Russell Beale and Jonathan Groff, the theatre became the home of jukebox musical Million Dollar Quartet in February 2011. The show recently had its booking period at the theatre extended until November 2012.
Recent and present productions
- Endgame (10 March – 1 May 2004) by Samuel Beckett, starring Lee Evans and Michael Gambon
- Suddenly Last Summer (14 May – 31 July 2004) by Tennessee Williams, starring Diana Rigg
- Twelfth Night (26 August – 30 October 2004) by William Shakespeare, starring Raza Jaffrey and Kulvinder Ghir
- The RSC's Hamlet (23 November – 11 December 2004) by William Shakespeare, starring Toby Stephens
- Peter Pan — 100 Years of Peter Pan (19 December 2004) by JM Barrie
- The RSC's Romeo and Juliet (21 December 2004 – 8 January 2005) by William Shakespeare
- The RSC's King Lear (18 January – 5 February 2005) by William Shakespeare, starring Corin Redgrave
- The RSC's Macbeth (16 February – 5 March 2005) by William Shakespeare
- The RSC's Hecuba (7 April – 7 May 2005) by Tony Harrison, adapted from Euripides, starring Vanessa Redgrave
- The Shaughraun (8 June – 30 July 2005) by Dion Boucicault
- Ducktastic! (19 October – 19 November 2005) by Sean Foley and Hamish McColl
- Celebration — Harold Pinter (1–3 December 2005) by Harold Pinter
- A Christmas Carol (7–31 December 2005) by Patrick Stewart. adapted from Charles Dickens, starring Patrick Stewart
- Blackbird (13 February – 13 May 2006) by David Harrower, starring Roger Allam and Jodhi May
- Avenue Q (28 June 2006 – 28 March 2009)
- Calendar Girls (4 April 2009 – 9 January 2010)
- Enron (16 January 2010 - 8 May 2010)
- Deathtrap (21 August 2010 - December 2010) by Ira Levin, starring Simon Russell Beale.
- Million Dollar Quartet (28 February 2011 - 14 January 2012)
- Hay Fever (23 February 2012 - 2 June 2012) starring Lindsay Duncan, Jeremy Northam, Kevin McNally and Olivia Colman
- Guide to British Theatres 1750-1950, John Earl and Michael Sell pp. 97 (Theatres Trust, 2000) ISBN 0-7136-5688-3
- Official page for the Noël Coward Theatre on the Delfont Mackintosh Theatres website
- Theatre History
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