Haymarket Theatre

Haymarket Theatre

Infobox Theatre
name = Haymarket Theatre

caption = The Theatre Royal, Haymarket in 2008. The production is Edward Bond's "The Sea".
address = The Haymarket
city = City of Westminster, London
country =
designation = Grade I listed
latitude = 51.508611
longitude = -0.131667
architect = John Nash
owner = Crown Estate
capacity = 905 on 3 levels
type = West End theatre
opened = 4 July 1821
yearsactive =
rebuilt = 1879 proscenium and removal of pit 1904 auditorium - C. Stanley Peach 1994 Major refurbishment
closed =
othernames = 1720 Little Theatre (nearby) 1767 Theatre Royal
production =
currentuse =
website = www.trh.co.uk

The Theatre Royal Haymarket or Haymarket Theatre or the Little Theatre is a West End theatre in The Haymarket in the City of Westminster which dates back to 1720, making it the third-oldest London playhouse still in use. Samuel Foote acquired the lease in 1747, and in 1766 he gained a royal patent to play legitimate drama (meaning spoken drama, as opposed to opera, concerts or plays with music) in the summer months. The original building was a little further north in the same street. It has been at its current location since 1821, when it was redesigned by John Nash. It is a Grade I listed building, with a seating capacity of 888. The freehold of the theatre is owned by the Crown Estate. [H M Land Registry registration NGL853225]

The Haymarket has been the site of a couple of significant innovations in theatre. In 1873, it was the venue for the first scheduled matinée performance, establishing a custom soon followed in theatres everywhere. Six years later, its auditorium was reconstructed, and the stage was enclosed in the first use of the picture frame proscenium.

Its managers have included Benjamin Nottingham Webster, John Baldwin Buckstone, Squire Bancroft, Cyril Maude, Herbert Beerbohm Tree, and John Sleeper Clarke, brother-in-law of John Wilkes Booth, who quit America after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Famous actors who débuted at the theatre included Robert William Elliston (1774-1831) and John Liston (1776-1846).

History of the theatre

Origins and early years

The First Haymarket Theatre or Little Theatre was built in 1720 by John Potter, carpenter, on the site of "The King's Head Inn" in the Haymarket and a shop in Suffolk Street kept by Isaac Bliburgh, a gunsmith, and known by the sign of the Cannon and Musket. The theatre cost £1000 to build, with a further £500 expended on decorations, scenery and costumes. It opened on December 29 1720, with a French play "La Fille a la Morte, ou le Badeaut de Paris" performed by a company later known as 'The French Comedians of His Grace the Duke of Montague'.Survey of London, p.98] Potter's speculation was known as "The New French Theatre". [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=45193 'The Haymarket', Old and New London: Volume 4 (1878), pp. 216-26] accessed: 31 March 2007]

The theatre's first major success was a 1729 production of a play by Samuel Johnson of Cheshire [Not the noted Dr Johnson but a namesake (1691-1773). [http://www.gutenberg.org/files/20535/20535-0.txt Gutenberg text] accessed: 31 March 2007] "Hurlothrumbo, or The Supernatural", which ran for 30 nights – not as long as John Gay's "The Beggar's Opera" (62 performances), but still a long run for the time. In 1730 it was taken over by an English company, and its name changed to the 'Little Theatre in the Haymarket'. Among the actors who appeared there before 1737 when the theatre was closed under the Licensing Act 1737 were Aaron Hill, Theophilus Cibber, and Henry Fielding. In the eight to ten years before the Act was passed, the Haymarket was an alternative to John Rich's Theatre Royal, Covent Garden and the opera-dominated Drury Lane Theatre. Fielding himself was responsible for the instigation of the Act, having produced a play called "The Historical Register" that parodied prime minister Robert Walpole, as the caricature, Quidam.

itself is very brief on the page, as it relied extensively on absurd theatrics, dances, and other non-textual entertainments. "The Musical Entertainer" from 1739 contains engravings showing how the staging was performed [Gillespie, Norman. "Henry Carey", in "The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians." vol. 15, p. 128.]

Carey continued with "Pasquin" and others. Additionally, refugees from Drury Lane's and Covent Garden's internal struggles would show up at the Haymarket, and thus Charlotte Charke would act there in a parody of her father, Colley Cibber, one of the owners and managers of Drury Lane. The Theatrical Licensing Act, however, put an end to the anti-ministry satires, and it all but entirely shut down the theatre. From 1741 to 1747, Charles Macklin, Cibber, Samuel Foote, and others sometimes produced plays there either by use of a temporary licence or by subterfuge; one advertisement runs, "At Cibber's Academy in the Haymarket, will be a Concert, after which, will be exhibited (gratis) a Rehearsal, in the form of a Play, called Romeo and Juliet"."

London's third patent theatre


During the season of 1793-94 when Drury Lane Theatre was being rebuilt, the Haymarket was opened under the Drury Lane Patent. The season was notable for a 'Dreadful Accident' which occurred on 3 February 1794, 'when Twenty Persons unfortunately lost their lives, and a great Number were dreadfully bruised owing to a great Crowd pressing to see his Majesty, who was that Evening present at the Performance.' Colman died in 1794, and the theatre descended to his son. George Colman Jr., though successful both as playwright and manager, dissipated his gains by his extravagance. For a time he lived in a room at the back of the theatre and he was finally forced to sell shares in the latter to his brother-in-law, David Morris. Monetary difficulties increased and for a while Colman managed the theatre from the King's Bench Prison, where he was confined for debt.

's schemes for the improvement of the neighbourhood. Nash persuaded the proprietors of the theatre to rebuild on a site a little south of the old one so that the portico should close the vista from Charles Street. The main front feature of Nash's elevation in the Haymarket was (and is) a pedimented portico of six Corinthian columns which extends in depth to the edge of the pavement and includes the whole frontage. It is sometimes stated that Nash rebuilt the theatre entirely, but there is evidence that he incorporated a house in Little Suffolk Street with the theatre, removed two shops which were in front, in the Haymarket, built a portico, increased the number of avenues and added a second gallery to the existing auditorium.

A lease dated 10 June 1821, was granted to David Edward Morris. The theatre was opened on 4 July 1821, with "The Rivals". Benjamin Nottingham Webster became the theatre's manager from 1837 to 1853. He and his successor, John Baldwin Buckstone, established the theatre as a great comedy house, and the theatre hosted most of the great actors of the period.

The latter half of the 19th century

", an 1877 farce.

's "Lords and Commons", with other revivals of previous successes. The auditorium was reconstructed, and the stage enclosed in a complete picture frame proscenium. The abolition of the pit by the introduction of stalls seating divided by plain iron arms caused a small riot.

Herbert Beerbohm Tree transferred from the Comedy Theatre with "The Red Lamp" in 1887. He took over upon the retirement of the Bancrofts and installed electric light in the theatre. Under Tree's management, Oscar Wilde premiered his first comedy "A Woman of No Importance" in April 1893. In January 1895 Wilde's "An Ideal Husband" was first performed. Tree's next notable hit was George du Maurier's "Trilby", later in 1895. This ran for over 260 performances and made such profits that Tree was able to build Her Majesty's Theatre and establish RADA.

In 1896 Cyril Maude and Frederick Harrison became lessees, opening with "Under the Red Robe", an adaptation of Stanley Wyman's novel. In 1897 "The Little Minister" by J. M. Barrie ran for 320 performances.

The 20th century

* 1904 Auditorium redesigned in elegant 'Louis XVI' style by C Stanley Peach. [ [http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/search/details.aspx?pid=2&id=210132 English Heritage listing details] accessed 28 April 2007]
* 1905: Maude acquired the Playhouse Theatre by Charing Cross Station, leaving Harrison in sole control.
* 1909: Herbert Trench produced Maurice Maeterlinck's "The Blue Bird."
* 1911: "Bunty Pulls the Strings", a Scottish comedy by Graham Moffat ran for 617 performances. Jimmy Finlayson played the lead.
* 1914: Ibsen's "Ghosts" introduced.
* 1916: "Elegant Edward" with Henry Daniell as P.C.Hodson. Parker, John (ed), "Who's Who in the Theatre", 10th revised edition, London, 1947: 477-478]
* 1916: "The Widow's Might", comedy by Leonard Huskinson and Christopher Sandeman, opened 15 Nov, with Henry Daniell. [ Parker, John: 1748 'Notable Productions']
* 1917: 532 performances of "General Post", a comedy by J. E. Harold Terry, opened 14 March, again with Henry Daniell.
* 1920: J. M. Barrie's "Mary Rose" had a run of 399 performances.
* 1925/6: Ralph Richardson gave 610 performances in "Yellow Sands." [
thumb|200px|John Gielgud in 1936]
* 1926: Harrison died and Horace Watson became General Manager under a Trust.
* 1929: Marie Tempest gave 632 performances of "The First Mrs Fraser" by St. John Ervine.
* 1939: Under Stuart Watson the stalls bar was excavated but not completed until 1941 owing to the War. London premiere of Noel Coward's "Design for Living". John Gielgud produced a repertory season of "The Circle" (Somerset Maugham), "Love for Love" (Congreve), "Hamlet, A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "The Duchess of Malfi."
* 1940: Gielgud directed "The Beggar's Opera," with Michael Redgrave as Macheath. [Gielgud Letters, p. 58]
* 1945: "Present Laughter" (Noel Coward), "Lady Windermere's Fan" and "The Importance of Being Earnest" alternated with "This Happy Breed" (Noel Coward).
* 1948: Tennessee Williams's "The Glass Menagerie" directed by Gielgud, starring Helen Hayes. [Gielgud Letters, p. 119]
* 1949: "The Heiress", an adaptation of Henry James's "Washington Square", directed by Gielgud and starring Ralph Richardson and Peggy Ashcroft, succeeded by Wendy Hiller in 1950. [Sinden, p 150]
* 1951-52: "Waters of the Moon" by N.C. Hunter, starring Sybil Thorndyke, Edith Evans and Wendy Hiller.
* 1953: "The Apple Cart" (George Bernard Shaw), starring Noel Coward and Margaret Leighton [Lesley, p.316: ‘To Noel, the Haymarket was the most perfect theatre in the world.’]
* 1956: Stuart Watson died and was succeeded by his son, Anthony.
* 1957: "Flowering Cherry" by Robert Bolt starring Ralph Richardson and Celia Johnson, succeeded by Wendy Hiller, in 1958.
* 1960: Ross by Terence Rattigan.
* 1962: John Gielgud directed "School for Scandal" with Ralph Richardson and Margaret Rutherford, and "The Tulip Bee" by N. C. Hunter starring Celia Johnson and John Clements.
* 1963: Thornton Wilder's "Ides of March" directed by Gielgud.
* 1971: Enid Bagnold's "The Chalk Garden" revival with Gladys Cooper.
* 1971 Louis I Michaels became Lessee. First production of "A Voyage Round My Father" (John Mortimer) starring Alec Guinness, succeeded by Michael Redgrave.
* 1972: "Crown Matrimonial" by Royce Ryton starring Wendy Hiller.
* 1974: "Edith Evans and Friends"
* 1975: "On Approval" (Frederick Lonsdale) with Geraldine McEwan and Edward Woodward
* 1976: "The Circle" with Googie Withers and John McCallum
* 1977: "Rosmersholm" (Ibsen) with Claire Bloom & Daniel Massey
* 1978: "The Millionairess" (Shaw) with Penelope Keith. "Waters of the Moon" (N. C. Hunter) starring Wendy Hiller and Ingrid Bergman in her last stage engagement.
* 1980: "Make and Break" (Michael Frayn) with Leonard Rossiter.
* 1981: On the death of Louis Michaels the theatre passed to a company, Louis I Michaels Ltd, with President, Enid Chanelle and Chairman, Arnold M Crook. They presented "Overheard" by and starring Peter Ustinov and "Virginia" with Maggie Smith.
* 1982: Repertory season of "Hobson's Choice" starring Penelope Keith; "A Coat of Varnish" (Ronald Millar); "Captain Brassbound's Conversion" (Shaw); "Uncle Vanya" (Chekhov); Rules "of the Game" (Luigi Pirandello) and "Man and Superman" (Shaw) starring Peter O'Toole.
* 1983: "School for Scandal" starring Donald Sinden; "Heartbreak House" (Shaw) starring Rex Harrison; Ben Kingsley in his one-man show about Edmund Kean; "A Patriot for Me" (John Osborne); "The Cherry Orchard" (Chekhov) and "The Sleeping Prince" (Terence Rattigan).
* 1984: "The Aspern Papers" by Henry James adapted by Michael Redgrave, starring Christopher Reeve, Vanessa Redgrave and Wendy Hiller; "Aren't We All?" (Frederick Lonsdale) starring Claudette Colbert and "The Way of the World" (Congreve).
* 1985: "Sweet Bird of Youth" (Tennessee Williams) starring Lauren Bacall; "Old Times" (Harold Pinter)
* 1986: "Antony and Cleopatra" starring Vanessa Redgrave; "Breaking the Code" (Hugh Whitmore) starring Derek Jacobi; "Long Day's Journey Into Night" starring Jack Lemmon and "The Apple Cart" starring Peter O’Toole.
* 1987: "Mad Bad and Dangerous To Know" (Jane McCulloch) and "Melon" (Simon Gray).
* 1988: "Orpheus Descending" (Tennessee Williams) starring Vanessa Redgrave; "You Never Can Tell" (Shaw); "The Deep Blue Sea" (Rattigan) and "The Admirable Crichton" (J. M. Barrie).
* 1989: "The Royal Baccarat Scandal" (Royce Ryton); "Veterans' Day" (Donald Freed) and "A Life In The Theatre" (David Mamet).
* 1990: "London Assurance" (Dion Boucicault); "An Evening with Peter Ustinov" and "Gasping" (Ben Elton).
* 1991: "Silly Cow" (Ben Elton); "John Sessions' Travelling Tales"; Jean Anouilh's "Becket" starring Derek Jacobi and Robert Lindsay.
* 1992: "Cyrano de Bergerac," title role played by Robert Lindsay; "Heartbreak House" and "A Woman of No Importance."
* 1994: £1.3 million refurbishment after which the theatre re-opened with "An Evening with Peter Ustinov", followed by "Arcadia" (Tom Stoppard).
* 1995: "Burning Blue" a new play by the first time playwright David Greer; Ibsen's "The Master Builder" directed by Peter Hall, starring Alan Bates.
* 1996: "An Ideal Husband" (Oscar Wilde) returned 100 years since its premiere at the Haymarket. Directed by Peter Hall, with Martin Shaw as Lord Goring; Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple" starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman.
* 1997: "A Streetcar Named Desire" (Tennessee Williams) directed by Peter Hall, starring Jessica Lange; "Lady Windermere's Fan"; "An Ideal Husband" (returning after touring).
* 1997/98: "A Delicate Balance" (Edward Albee), starring Maggie Smith, John Standing, Annette Crosbie and Eileen Atkins.
* 1998: Tom Stoppard's "The Invention of Love" starring John Wood, transferring from the National Theatre.
* 1999: Fascinating Aida's comic revue, followed by a run of Neil Simon's "The Prisoner of Second Avenue" with Richard Dreyfuss and Marsha Mason, and "Love Letters" by A. R. Gurney with Charlton Heston. A transfer of the Chichester Festival's "The Importance of Being Earnest" starring Patricia Routledge.

The 21st century

* 2000: "Collected Stories" (Donald Marguiles) starring Helen Mirren; August Strindberg's "Miss Julie."
* 2001: "The Blue Room" by David Hare. "Japes" by Simon Gray, directed by Peter Hall.
* 2002: "The Royal Family" (Edna Ferber) starring Judi Dench; "Lady Windermere's Fan", directed by Peter Hall starring Vanessa Redgrave and Joely Richardson; "Rose Rage", an adaptation of Shakespeare's "Henry VI" plays, directed by Edward Hall.
* 2003: Judi Dench and Maggie Smith appeared for the first time together on stage in "The Breath of Life" by David Hare; "Brand" (Ibsen) directed by Adrian Noble, starring Ralph Fiennes; "A Woman of No Importance" with Rupert Graves, Samantha Bond and Prunella Scales also directed by Noble.
* 2004: A stage production of the film, "When Harry Met Sally", starring Luke Perry and Alyson Hannigan (during which the house closed for two nights after bits of the ceiling fell down during a performance injuring about 13 people); "Singular Sensations" – a season of performances by Barbara Cook, Michael Feinstein, Michael Ball and Joshua Rifkin. This was followed by "Becket" by Anouilh.
* 2005: Victoria Wood's "Acorn Antiques The Musical", starring Julie Walters, directed by Trevor Nunn; "A Few Good Men" starring Rob Lowe.
* 2006: "A Man for All Seasons" starring Martin Shaw. "Hay Fever" by Noel Coward, starring Judi Dench and Peter Bowles; "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," starring Dave Willetts and Shona Lindsay; "Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks", starring Claire Bloom and Billy Zane.
* 2007: "Pinter's People" a compilation of Harold Pinter sketches of the past 40 years; "The Lady from Dubuque" (Albee), starring Maggie Smith; David Suchet in "The Last Confession"; "The Country Wife" starring Toby Stephens, Patricia Hodge and David Haig.
* 2008: "The Sea" (Bond) starring David Haig, Eileen Atkins and Russell Tovey; "Marguerite - A New Musical" (Legrand, Schönberg, Boublil, Kretzmer) starring Ruthie Henshall and Alexander Hanson; "Girl with a Pearl Earring", a new stage adaptation by David Joss Buckley of Tracy Chevalier's novel (limited engagement)



* Earl, John and Sell, Michael "Guide to British Theatres 1750-1950", pp. 116 (Theatres Trust, 2000) ISBN 0-7136-5688-3
* Gater, Sir George and Walter H Godfrey (ed): "Survey of London", Vol XX, Greater London Council, London 1940
* Gielgud, John, (ed Richard Mangan): "Gielgud's Letters", Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 2004, ISBN 0297829890
* Goodman, Andrew: "Gilbert and Sullivan's London", Spellmount Ltd, London, 1988, ISBN 0-946771-31-6
* Lesley, Cole: "The Life of Noel Coward", Jonathan Cape, London, 1976, ISBN 0224012886
* Plantamura, Carol, "The Opera Lover's Guide to Europe", New York: Citadel Press, 1996. ISBN 0-8065-1842-1
* Sinden, Donald: "A Touch of the Memoirs", Futura, London 1983, ISBN 0 7088 22851
* [http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/TheatreRoyalHaymarket.htm Theatre History and Archive Material]
* [http://www.victorianweb.org/mt/theaters/pva234.html Profile of the theatre and other Victorian theatres]

External links

* [http://www.trh.co.uk/ Theatre Royal Haymarket] homepage
* [http://www.theatre-royal-haymarket.com Guide to events at Theatre Royal Haymarket]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/3722691.stm bbc.co.uk] "Theatre shuts after ceiling fall" (published 2004-05-17)
* [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9500E6D71F3FE63BBC4953DFB7678382669FDE "New York Times" obituary, of J. B. Buckstone, November 1, 1879, describing numerous plays that he produced at the Haymarket]

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