Aldwych Theatre


Aldwych Theatre

Infobox Theatre
name = Aldwych Theatre


caption = Aldwych Theatre in April 2007
address = Aldwych
city = Westminster, London
country =
designation = Grade II
latitude = 51.513306
longitude = -0.117944
architect = W.G.R. Sprague
owner = James Nederlander
capacity = 1200
type = West End theatre
opened = 1905
yearsactive =
rebuilt =
closed =
othernames =
production =
currentuse =
website = www.aldwychtheatre.com
The Aldwych Theatre is a West End theatre, located on Aldwych in the City of Westminster. The theatre was listed Grade II on July 20, 1971 [ [http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/search/details.aspx?pid=1&id=208539 Aldwych Theatre listing details - English Heritage] accessed 3 Apr 2007] Its seating capacity is 1,200.

History

Origins

The theatre was built as a pair with the Waldorf Theatre (now called the Novello Theatre), both being designed by W.G.R. Sprague. Funded by Seymour Hicks, in association with the American impressario Charles Frohman, and built by Walter Wallis of Balham. The ornate decorations were in the Georgian style. The theatre was constructed on the newly built Aldwych.

The Aldwych theatre opened on 23 December 1905 with a production of "Blue Bell", a new version of Hicks' popular pantomime "Bluebell in Fairyland". In 1906, Hicks' "The Beauty of Bath", followed in 1907 by "The Gay Gordons" played at the theatre. In 1920, Basil Rathbone played Major Wharton in "The Unknown". From 1925-1933, it was used for performances of Ben Travers's farces, also known as "The Aldwych Farces". Members of Travers's company included Tom Walls, Yvonne Arnaud, Norma Varden, Ralph Lynn, Mary Brough, Winifred Shotter, and Robertson Hare. In 1933, Richard Tauber presented and starred in a new version of "Das Dreimäderlhaus" at the Aldwych under the title "Lilac Time". From the mid-1930s until about 1960, the theatre was owned by the Abrahams family. [ [http://www.andreas-praefcke.de/carthalia/uk/uk_london_aldwych.htm Theatre Postcard site] accessed 19 Mar 2007]

Post-war years and Royal Shakespeare Company

Vivien Leigh, who had won an Academy Award for the film version, appeared in a 1949 London production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" at the Aldwych, which was directed by her husband, Laurence Olivier. Bonar Colleano co-starred as Stanley.

On 15 December 1960, after intense speculation, it was announced that the Royal Shakespeare Company of Stratford-upon-Avon was to base its London productions in the Aldwych Theatre for the next three years. In fact they stayed for over 20 years, finally moving to the Barbican Arts Centre in 1982. Among many notable productions were "The Wars of the Roses", "The Greeks", and "Nicholas Nickleby", as well as numerous Shakespeare productions.

During absences of the RSC, the theatre hosted the annual World Theatre Seasons, foreign plays in their original productions, invited to London by the theatre impresario Peter Daubeny, annually from 1964 to 1973 and finally in 1975. For his involvement with these Aldwych seasons, run without Arts Council or other official support, Daubeny won the Evening Standard special award in 1972.

In 1990-91, Joan Collins starred in "Private Lives" at the Aldwych. Other notable recent productions are listed below. The theatre is referred to in Julio Cortázar's short story "Instructions for John Howell" ("Instrucciones para John Howell") in the anthology "All Fires the Fire" ("Todos los fuegos el fuego").

A New Millennium

Since 2000, the theatre has hosted a mixture of plays, comedies and musical productions, but has now become a recognised musical house with the large amount currently taking to the West End. Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical "Whistle Down the Wind" played until 2001, whilst "Fame" enjoyed an extended run through 2006. Since then, the venue has hosted the quick transfer of "Dancing in the Streets" from the Cambridge Theatre which subsequently moved to the Playhouse Theatre to make way for the British premiere of the stage version of "Dirty Dancing" which plays today.

Notable Productions

* John Whiting "The Devils" (1961)
* Harold Pinter "The Collection" (18 June 1962)
* Harold Pinter "The Homecoming" (3 June 1965)
* Harold Pinter "Old Times" (1 June 1971)
* Tom Stoppard "Travesties" (10 June 1974)

Recent and present productions

*"An Inspector Calls" (August 25, 1993 - January 21, 1995)
* "Indian Ink" (February 27, 1995 - January 6, 1996) by Tom Stoppard
* "The Fields of Ambrosia" (January 31, 1996 - Februayry 11, 1996) by Joel Higgins and Martin Silvestri
* "Present Laughter" (February 27, 1996 - April 20, 1996) by Noel Coward
* "Tolstoy" (April 30, 1996 - May 18, 1996) by James Goldman
* "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (November 6, 1996 - March 22, 1997) by Edward Albee
* "Tom and Clem" (April 14, 1997 - July 26, 1997) by Stephen Churchett
* "Life Support" (August 5, 1997 - October 18, 1997) by Simon Gray
* "The Boys in the Band" (October 29, 1997 - December 20, 1997) by Mark Crowley
* "Amy's View" (January 14, 1998 - April 18, 1998) by David Hare
*"Whistle Down The Wind" (July 1, 1998 - January 6, 2001) by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jim Steinman
* The RSC's "The Secret Garden" (February 27, 2001 - June 2, 2001) by Marsha Norman and Lucy Simon
* "Mahler's Canversion" (October 2, 2001 - November 3, 2001) by Ronald Harwood
* "Thunderbirds FAB" (December 11, 2001 - January 6, 2002) by Andrew Dawson, Gavin Robertson from Gerry Anderson
* "Top Girls" (January 9, 2002 - February 2, 2002) by Caryl Churchill
* "Mother Clap's Molly House" (February 8, 2002 - March 23, 2002) by Mark Ravenhill and Matthew Scott
* "Bedroom Farce" (April 8, 2002 - June 29, 2002) by Alan Ayckbourn
* "Fame - The Musical" (September 6, 2002 - April 22, 2006) by Jacques Levy and Steve Margoshes
* "Dancing In The Streets" (April 27, 2006 - July 16, 2006)
* "Dirty Dancing - The Classic Story on Stage" (September 28, 2006 - ) by Eleanor Bergstein

References

* "Who's Who in the Theatre", edited by John Parker, tenth edition, revised, London, 1947, p.1183.
* "The Oxford Companion to the Theatre" Fourth edition, edited by Phyllis Hartnoll, Oxford, 1983
* "Guide to British Theatres 1750-1950", John Earl and Michael Sell pp. 97-8 (Theatres Trust, 2000) ISBN 0-7136-5688-3

Nearby tube stations

*Covent Garden
*Holborn

External links

* [http://www.aldwychtheatre.com/ Official Website]
* [http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/AldwychTheatre.htm History of the Aldwych Theatre]


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