Apollo Theatre

Apollo Theatre

Infobox Theatre
name=Apollo Theatre

caption=Mamet's "A Life in the Theatre" starring Joshua Jackson in February 2005
address=Shaftesbury Avenue
city=Westminster, London
designation=Grade II
architect=Lewin Sharp
owner=Nimax Theatres
capacity=796, on 4 levels
type=West End theatre
opened=21 February 1901
production= Rain Man

The Apollo Theatre is a Grade II listed West End theatre, on Shaftesbury Avenue in the City of Westminster. [http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/search/details.aspx?pid=1&id=427104 English Heritage listing] accessed 28 Apr 2007] Designed by architect Lewin Sharp for owner Henry Lowenfield, and the fourth legitimate theatre to be constructed on the street, its doors opened on 21 February 1901 with the American musical comedy "The Belle of Bohemia". The production was followed by John Martin-Harvey's season, including "A Cigarette Maker's Romance" and "The Only Way", an adaptation of Charles Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities". [http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/ApolloTheatre.htm "Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London" (Arthur Lloyd website)] ]

The first London theatre built in the Edwardian period, the Apollo was renovated by Schaufelberg in 1932, and a private foyer and ante room was installed to the Royal Box. The sculpted work on the stone fascia is by T. Simpson, the building is of plain brick to the neighbouring streets. The theatre has a first floor central loggia. Inside there is a three galleried auditorium with elaborate plasterwork. The theatre seats 796, and the balcony on the 3rd tier is considered the steepest in London. [ [http://www.thisistheatre.com/londontheatre/apollotheatre.html Information about the theatre at the This Is Theatre site] ]

The Stoll Moss Group purchased the Apollo Theatre in 1975 and sold it to Andrew Lloyd-Webber's Really Useful Group and Bridgepoint Capital in 2000. Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer purchased the theatre and several others in 2005, creating Nimax Theatres, which still owns the theatre.

Production history

George Edwards produced a series of successful Edwardian musical comedies, including "Kitty Grey" (1901), "Three Little Maids" and "The Girl from Kays" (1902). An English version of André Messager's light opera "Véronique" became a hit in 1904, starring with Ruth Vincent, who also starred in Edward German's "Tom Jones" in 1907. Between 1908 and 1912, the theatre hosted H. G. Pelissier's "The Follies". After this, the theatre hosted a variety of works, including seasons of plays by Charles Hawtrey in 1913, 1914 and 1924, and Harold Brighouse's "Hobson's Choice" in 1916. [http://www.nimaxtheatres.com/apollotheatre.asp History of the Apollo Theatre] ] Gilbert Dayle's "What Would a Gentleman Do?" played in 1918.

George Grossmith, Jr. and Edward Laurillard managed the theatre from 1920 to 1923, presenting a series of plays and revivals, including "Such a Nice Young Man" by H.F. Maltby (1920) and the stage version of George Du Maurier's novel "Trilby" (1922). They had produced "The Only Girl" here in 1916 and "Tilly of Bloomsbury" in 1919. "The Fake" was produced in 1924, starring Godfrey Tearle. 1927 saw "Abie's Irish Rose" and "Whispering Wires", with Henry Daniel. The next year, Laurence Olivier starred in R. C. Sherriff's "Journey's End". Sean O'Casey’s "The Silver Tassie" and Ivor Novello's "A Symphony in Two Flats" both played in 1929. Diana Wynyard starred as Charlotte Brontë in Clemence Dane's "Wild Decembers" in 1932, and Raymond Massey starred in Robert Sherwood's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Idiot's Delight" in 1938. Patrick Hamilton's play "Gaslight" held the stage in 1939, and Terence Rattigan's "Flare Path" played in 1942.

Control of the theatre transferred to Prince Littler in 1944. John Clements and Kay Hammond starred in Noël Coward's "Private Lives", and Margaret Rutherford starred in "The Happiest Days of Your Life" in 1948, followed by Sybil Thorndike and Lewis Casson in "Treasure Hunt", directed by John Gielgud in 1949. After this, "Seagulls Over Sorrento" ran for over three years beginning in 1950. The theatre’s longest run was the comedy "Boeing Boeing", starring Patrick Cargill and David Tomlinson, which opened in 1962 and transferred to the Duchess Theatre in 1965. In 1968, Gielgud starred in Alan Bennett's "Forty Years On" and in 1969, he returned in David Storey's "Home", with Ralph Richardson. He returned to the theatre in 1988, at the age of 83, in "Best of Friends" by Hugh Whitemore.

A number of hit comedies transferred to or from the theatre in the 1970s and 1980s, and other important plays here during the period included Rattigan's "Separate Tables", with John Mills in 1976, "Orphans" in 1986 with Albert Finney, "I'm Not Rappaport" the same year, with Paul Scofield, and Dorothy Tutin, Eileen Atkins and Sian Phillips in "Thursday's Ladies" in 1987. "Driving Miss Daisy" played in 1988, starring Wendy Hiller, and 1989 saw Zoe Wanamaker in "Mrs Klein", Vanessa Redgrave in "A Mad house in Goa", and Peter O'Toole in "Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell". Penelope Wilton starred in Rattigan's "The Deep Blue Sea" in 1993, and "In Praise of Love" played in 1995, with Peter Bowles. Mark Little starred in the Laurence Olivier Award-winning one-man show, "Defending the Caveman" in 1999.

elected recent productions

*"Side Man" (2000), with Jason Priestley
*"Fallen Angels" (2000), with Felicity Kendal and Frances de la Tour
*"Star Quality" (2001), with Penelope Keith
*A female version of "The Odd Couple" (2001)
*Arthur Miller's "The Price" (2003), with Warren Mitchell
*"The Goat or Who is Sylvia?" (2004), with Jonathan Pryce
*Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" (2006)
*Tennessee Williams' "Summer and Smoke" (2006, with Rosamund Pike)
*"The Glass Menagerie" (2007, with Jessica Lange)
*"The Last Five Years" (2007)
*"Glengarry Glen Ross" (2007)
*"An Audience with the Mafia" (2008)
*"The Vortex" (2008)
*"Divas" (2008)
*"Rain Man" (2008), with Josh Hartnett



* "Guide to British Theatres 1750-1950", John Earl and Michael Sell pp. 98-9 (Theatres Trust, 2000) ISBN 0-7136-5688-3
*"Who's Who in the Theatre", edited by John Parker, tenth edition, revised, London, 1947, pps: 477-478.

External links

* [http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/ApolloTheatre.htm Apollo Theatre History (Arthur Lloyd)]
* [http://www.nimaxtheatres.com/apollotheatre.asp Apollo Theatre History (Nimax theatres)]
* [http://www.thisistheatre.com/londontheatre/apollotheatre.html Information about the theatre at the This Is Theatre site]
* [http://www.thisistheatre.com/shows/apolloshows.html List of recent productions]

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