Prince Edward Theatre Facade

Prince Edward Theatre Facade

Prince Edward Theatre  Interior

Prince Edward Theatre Interior

 

The Prince Edward Theatre is a West End theatre situated on Old Compton Street, just north of Leicester Square, in the City of Westminster, London. The seating capacity is 1,716.

The theatre was designed in 1930 by Edward A. Stone, with an interior designed by Marc-Henri Levy and Gaston Laverdet. Named after Prince Edward (then the Prince of Wales, briefly Edward VIII and later Duke of Windsor), it opened on 3 April 1930 with a performance of the musical Rio Rita. Other notable events in its opening years included the London debut of famed cabaret artiste Josephine Baker, who performed her famous 'Bananas Dance'.

In 1935, Stone converted the theatre to a dance and cabaret hall, being renamed the "London Casino". As the London Casino, it was badly damaged and all its windows lost in London's worst air raid of WWII on 10 May 1941. All neighbouring buildings directly across Greek Street were destroyed.

In 1942, stage alterations were undertaken by Thomas Braddock, re-opening as the "Queensberry All Services Club" in 1942 – a club for servicemen where the shows were broadcast on the BBC. After the war, the architects T. and E. Braddock restored the building to theatrical use, becoming the "London Casino" once again — when the King of Yiddish Music Leo Fuld was a major attraction.

The three projector, very wide screen Cinerama process had made its debut in New York in September 1952 with This Is Cinerama, a spectacular travelogue designed to make the most of the process and an enormous box office success. For the UK debut of the system, the Cinerama Corporation chose the Casino Theatre and in 1954 architects Frank Baessler and T. and E. Braddock drew up plans for the conversion, which required the installation of three separate projection boxes at stalls level and a 65ft wide by 26ft high deeply curved screen in front of the proscenium. Five speakers behind the screen and others around the auditorium supported the system's seven track stereophonic sound. Many front stalls seats were removed and others were lost by the installation of the projection boxes. The sightlines from the upper circle would have been too poor and it was taken out of use. Seating capacity was reduced to 1,337.

The premiere of This Is Cinerama took place on 30 September 1954. Like all subsequent presentations, the film was shown on a theatrical basis, with reserved seats and an intermission (required to load the spools for the second half onto the single projectors in each box). Unlike future "roadshow" practice there were three shows a day and the film ran until 28 January 1956. From 3 February 1956 the second Cinerama film Cinerama Holiday was presented, running until 22 February 1958. From 25 February 1958, the third Cinerama travelogue Seven Wonders of the World played, running until 31 October 1959 before being replaced by South Seas Adventure from 3 November 1959 to 4 March 1961. The final Cinerama travelogue presentation was Search for Paradise from 8 March 1961 to 27 October 1962.

The Casino was chosen for the World Premiere of How the West Was Won, the second (and final) narrative film in the three strip Cinerama process. The premiere took place on 2 November 1962 and the film ran for 123 weeks, closing on 13 March 1965. This was the final three strip presentation at the Casino as the Cinerama corporation had in 1963 adopted 70mm "single lens" Cinerama as the future standard. The two outer projection boxes at the Casino were taken out of use and the centre box enlarged to take two Philips DP70 projectors capable of 35mm and 70mm projection. The single strip system had made its debut in the UK at the Coliseum Cinerama at the end of 1963 and the first film in the process at the Casino was The Greatest Story Ever Told, which ran from 8 April – 28 July 1965.

The Casino now entered into a period of large scale 70mm "presented in Cinerama" roadshow runs. Culminating in the 'Song of Norway' (10 December 1970 – 2 February 1972) with the Royal Premiere in the presence of HRH Princess Alexandra. For the next two years the Casino found the going increasingly tough, with revivals of old films and premieres of not very good new ones. The final presentation "in Cinerama" was the feeble Run, Run, Joe! and Cinerama vacated the Casino in May 1974.

The theatre was acquired by EMI, and refurbished at a cost of £150,000. The Cinerama screen was removed and replaced with a conventional one within the proscenium and the 70mm projectors were removed and replaced with a single 35mm projector and non-rewind system. The Casino Theatre continued in use as a cinema until, after the final film run of a revival of Lady Sings the Blues and Mahogany which ended on 8 April 1978, it was converted back to a theatre by RHWL Architects and given its original name, reopening with the world première of the musical Evita on 21 June 1978. Further renovations were undertaken by RHWL in 1992–93, increasing the size of the stage, reopening 3 March 1993 with a revival of Crazy for You. The ABBA musical, Mamma Mia! premièred here on 6 April 1999, transferring to the Prince of Wales Theatre, after a five-year run.

Owned by the Delfont Mackintosh Group, and with a capacity of 1,716, it formerly hosted Mary Poppins until 12 January 2008, before the show toured the UK. Jersey Boys opened on 18 March 2008 and moved to the Piccadilly Theatre in March 2014. A revival of Miss Saigon opened at the Prince Edward Theatre in May 2014. Disney's production of Aladdin opened in June 2016 at the theatre.

The Prince Edward Theatre, named after the then Prince of Wales, opened on the 3rd of April 1930 with a musical called 'Rio Rita' by Harry Tierney. The Theatre was designed by Edward A. Stone and has a similar facade to the Streatham Astoria, also designed by Stone in the same year.

The Prince Edward Theatre was constructed by Griggs & Son on a site situated on the corner of Old Compton Street and Greek Street, which was previously home to several buildings mostly occupied by a mix of silk, linen, and drapery businesses, along with a diverse collection of auctioneers, candle makers, and domestic residents who occupied the rooms above the offices and shops below. The last of the Drapers shops, before its demolition in 1929 for the construction of the Theatre, belonged to William Reddan and Sons Ltd.

The Prince Edward was the first Theatre to be opened in London's West End in 1930 and was one of many which would open there the same year. The First was, as already mentioned, the Prince Edward on April the 3rd, then the Cambridge Theatre opened on the 4th of September, then the Phoenix on the 24th of September, and the Whitehall on the 29th of September. Then came the rebuilt Adelphi Theatre on the 3rd of December, and finally the Leicester Square Theatre which opened on December the 19th. Quite a flurry of Theatre building for one year in the 1930s.

The exterior of the Prince Edward Theatre was designed in the style of an Italian Palace, and its foyer in the Art Deco style. Its auditorium, designed by Marc-Henri & Laverdet, was built on three levels, Stalls, Dress, and Grand Circles with seven boxes, and could seat 1,650 in comfort. The Theatre was also equipped for showing films from the beginning, for example the Theatre's Foyer was decked out as a Train Station for the Film 'The Ghost Train' which was shown in 1931, along with a stage show to accompany the Movie; and a Poster for the Film 'The Viking' which was also shown at the Theatre in 1931.

From the Opening Night Programme for 'Rio Rita', which opened at the Theatre on the 3rd of April 1930.

A few years ago there stood on the junction of Greek Street and Old Compton Street, Soho - in what to-day is the very heart of Theatreland - a large draper's shop, which was known as "The Emporium." For close upon a century it had been the property of Messrs. William Reddan & Son, and in its day had supplied the needs of many of the most fashionable and distinguished women of our time. These included more than one member of the Royal Family; among others, Princess Mary was a constant visitor and she would frequently spend the whole morning making purchases of drapery and selecting material for-dresses. The business was conducted on old-fashioned lines but its clients came from the most exclusive ranks of London society.

To-day "The Emporium" is merely a memory. Together with a number of other buildings it was demolished last year. The site to-day is occupied by the Prince Edward Theatre, London's newest playhouse. This Theatre - for which it may be claimed that it is at once the most luxurious and commodious in London - has been built from the designs of Mr. Edward A. Stone, F.S.I., the joint architect of the Piccadilly Theatre. It has a seating accommodation for about 1,650 people. It would have been possible to have provided seats for many more, but due regard has been paid to the comfort and convenience of each member of the audience, and in deliberately limiting the number of seats the architect has been able to give better spacings between the rows, as well as to provide spacious foyers, extra wide spaces and corridors. In addition to this, the entire building has been designed in such a way as to secure for every visitor a full and uninterrupted view of the stage.

This applies to the boxes no less than to the seats in the body of the house. In the average London theatre the boxes are placed in positions which make a complete view of the stage difficult, if not, indeed, impossible - a circumstance which has tended to lessen considerably their selling value. In the case of the Prince Edward Theatre this defect has been entirely removed, and as the greater number of the boxes have been placed at the back of the dress circle, the view obtained is equal to that from any seat in the house.

The stage - which is second only in dimensions to the stages of Drury Lane and Covent Garden, the two largest Theatres in London has been built on the latest principles, the latest and best features of American and Continental stages having been incorporated in its design. The building operations have been carried out by Messrs Griggs and Son, 100, Victoria Street, S.W.1, who are already well known as the builders of the Piccadilly theatre and other places of entertainment, and who, at present are engaged in the construction of the new Whitehall Theatre near Charing Cross.

From a decorative viewpoint the Prince Edward Theatre can successfully challenge comparison with any other Theatre in the world; the general colour-scheme being a warm purple tint best described as "fuchsia and gold." The keynote of the decoration was inspired by the fact that the Theatre was to be used for bright musical comedies, and an adequate setting for these has been the endeavour of the architect.

The whole of the interior of the building has been decorated by Messrs. Marc Henri & Laverdet (of London and Paris) with the use of the new decoration material Marb-L-Cote. Messrs. Shoolbreds are responsible for the furnishing , and here again a new note has been struck, the circle having been fitted with an armchair tip-up seat, with spaces between each row of sufficient width to enable people to pass in and out without disturbing those members of the audience who are already seated. The upper circle has also been fitted with luxurious tip-up seats with exceptionally wide spaces between the rows.

A special feature of the Theatre is the lighting effect, which is under the control of Major C. H. Bell, 0.B.E., the consulting engineer. Here every device known to science for the illumination of scenes has been utilised. Complex as it is, the apparatus can be manipulated by one man. The entire stage lighting is arranged at one rehearsal, and only requires the operation of one push button to produce any effect previously arranged for. This is a method of control which has never before been applied to any Theatre. The auditorium is illuminated in conformity with the general design of the Theatre, and a perfect unison between the decorators and the lighting engineers has been attained, resulting in a pleasing ensemble of harmony.

The system of ventilation is the most up-to-date known, and provides for a complete change of air in the auditorium every ten minutes and the automatic control of temperature to any required degree. The Theatre is cleaned throughout by the new Vacuum system so as to eliminate entirely every particle of dust.

An important feature is the system of easy access and exit to and from all parts of the house. Lifts have been installed to provide ready access for the various artistes to their dressing rooms. In the Theatre itself the entrances and exits are symmetrical. By means of a special device the automatic lowering of the curtain at the end of the performance is signalled to the carriages outside, thereby valuable time is saved.

It may be said of the Prince Edward Theatre that it is one of the most dignified and impressive playhouses in the whole of the country. In considering the exterior the architect decided that it was advisable to keep this in harmony with the buildings of the surrounding neighbourhood. With this object in view he has utilised brick instead of the usual Portland Stone. A small mauve brick has been used with raked joints, which give a very agreeable shadow effect, enlivened by the introduction of bright colours in the windows, the shutters and the roof. The flood lighting from canopy and cornices at night viewed from Shaftesbury Avenue and Cambridge Circus is particularly striking.

When the curtain rises on the opening act of "Rio Rita" at the Prince Edward Theatre, a new chapter will have been added to London's theatrical history.

The Theatre's opening production however, was not a great success, 'Rio Rita' closed after only 59 performances, and later productions such as 'Nippy,' which ran for just 137 performances, and 'Fanfare' which ran for only three weeks, were not received well, even the famous Josephine Baker failed to make much impression in her London Debut at the Theatre. The Theatre was renamed the Radio Theatre for a brief period between 1935 and 1936, and then in 1936 it was bought by new owners for £25,000 and turned into a cabaret restaurant called the London Casino.

This new venture saw the stage converted into a semi circular dance floor, the understage converted to Kitchens, and the auditorium altered so that the Dress Circle could be reached from the stalls by stairs, as is common in Theatre conversions today. The building reopened on the 2nd of April 1936 as The London Casino and this was a great success. The Theatre was 'Dark' for two years after the war began, but in 1942 it became a 'Forces Theatre' called the Queensberry All-Services Club, and shows were put on for Radio Broadcasts.

After the war, in 1946, the building was converted back to a Theatre again, still with the London Casino name, under the management of Tom Arnold and Emile Littler. After some structural alterations it reopened with a production of the Elsa Shelley Play 'Pick Up Girl' on the 14th of October 1946. After the production of 'Pick Up Girl' the Theatre became home to a host of Variety productions including, in 1951, Robert Nesbit's 'Latin Quarter'. At Christmas annual Pantomimes were regularly put on by Emile Littler.

In 1954 the Theatre was converted for full time Cinema use, housing London's first Cinerama screen, a giant curved screen of 64 feet, and was renamed The Casino Cinerama Theatre.

In 1974 Bernard Delfont took over the Theatre and the London Casino was reborn again as a Theatre and Cinema, with a conventional screen, at a cost of £150,000. The new Theatre opened with a production of the Pantomime, 'Cinderella, on the 18th of December 1974.

In 1976 a musical about the actor James Dean was staged at the Theatre. The troubled production, with words and music by Robert Campbell, was called 'Dean' but was not a success, although it was re-staged in Japan several times in the 1980s. In 1978 the building had some refurbishment work done and was converted back into a proper Theatre again, and renamed back to its original name of the Prince Edward Theatre. The first production at the newly opened Prince Edward was the phenomenally successful 'Evita,' which opened on the 21st of June and ran for nearly eight years.

In 1992 The Prince Edward was given a total makeover when Bernard Delfont and Cameron Mackintosh spent over £3.3 million refurbishing the Theatre. This was achieved by the architect Nick Thompson and designer and colourist Clare Ferraby who were both working on behalf of the practice of Renton Howard Wood Levin. Andre Tammes of the Lighting Design Partnership was responsible for the exterior and interior lighting of the Theatre.

Work on the refurbishment began on the 7th of September 1992 and was completed on Christmas Eve. The works included lowering the anti-proscenium by two metres and adding a concealed lighting bridge within it, adding acoustic paneling to the auditorium, enlarging the stage, recarpeting the auditorium, enlarging the bars, increasing toilet facilities, reconfiguring the stalls seating and retiering the circle seating. Six new boxes were added to the auditorium and parts of the ceiling were lowered, and the stalls walls were brought in to 'create a more intimate atmosphere'. At the same time the decorative lighting on the Grand and Dress Circle tiers was reinstated.

The exterior of the Theatre was also partially redesigned in the 1992 refurbishment and a new canopy was added. The Theatre reopened on the 3rd of March 1993 with a successful production of 'Crazy for You.' Following this 'Martin Guerre opened in 1996, and then this was followed by a five year run of the hit musical, 'Mamma Mia' before it transferred to the Prince Of Wales Theatre in June 2004. More refurbishment of the Theatre took place before the opening of 'Mary Poppins' which included improving the bar areas, front of house, and the dressing rooms.

The Theatre became home to the hit musical 'Jersey Boys' in 2008, which ran until Spring 2014 when it transfered to the Piccadilly Theatre. The Prince Edward Theatre was home to Cameron Mackintosh's revival of 'Miss Saigon' from May 2014 to February 2016. The show was first staged at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1989 and went on to run for 10 years there. The revival at the Prince Edward took £4.4 million on its first day on sale which was a new record for the West End.

Venue Access Information. Aladdin Signed performance: Tuesday 3rd April 2018: 2:30pm. Access customers must call 0344 482 5137 or email access@delfontmackintosh.co.uk to book for this performance to guarantee seats that meet their requirements.

Aladdin Captioned performance: Monday 23rd April 2018: 7:30pm. Access customers must call 0344 482 5137 or email access@delfontmackintosh.co.uk to book for this performance to guarantee seats that meet their requirements.

Aladdin Audio Described performance: Tuesday 8th May 2018: 7:30pm. Access customers must call 0344 482 5137 or email access@delfontmackintosh.co.uk to book for this performance to guarantee seats that meet their requirements.

Tickets - How to book. Discounts are offered, subject to availability, for disabled theatregoers and one companion, including wheelchair users and Patrons who have specific access requirements. To discuss your visit and availability please: Call Now On 0344 482 5137 or email enquiry access@delfontmackintosh.co.uk

Parking. 1 parking space available for disabled badge holders on Frith Street. Hearing. Headsets are available from the Access attendant for a £5 refundable deposit. Guide Dogs, Hearing Dogs & registered Assistance Dogs. Guide dogs are allowed in to the auditorium. Alternatively, staff are happy to dog sit.

Wheelchairs. Entrance to the auditorium through a double EXIT door opening outwards on Greek Street, then up a very short ramp to Box 1 where there are 2 spaces for wheelchair users and 2 companions. Transfer seating is available to row A. The theatre is able to store a maximum of 2 wheelchairs and one scooter per performance, next to the EXIT door.

Toilets. There are men's and women's toilets at all levels. Disabled Toilets. There is an adapted toilet on the right-hand side of foyer. Patrons requiring the adapted toilets need to go out of the exit on Greek Street and back to the foyer entrance on Old Compton Street. Staff are happy to assist if required. Bars. 5 licensed bars. The access attendant can bring drinks to disabled customers. The Mozart Bar is situated in the foyer at street level. Dress Circle Bar (with balcony) is up 27 steps from the foyer. Stalls Bar is down 46 steps. There is a Soft Drinks Bar at Stalls level (down 24 steps) and a further bar at Grand Circle level.

Autism. Aladdin Autism-Friendly performances: In August 2017, ALADDIN partnered with The National Autistic Society to create a friendly and supportive environment to enjoy Disney's spectacular new West End musical at a special Autism-Friendly Performance. This specially adapted performance was suitable for people with autism, with trained staff on hand, and dedicated quiet and activity areas set up should anyone need to leave their seats. Delfont Mackintosh Theatres knows that communication is KEY. They want all their patrons to have a good experience while in their theatres, so they now have a visual tool for parents and carers to use with children and adults on the autistic spectrum and/or with learning difficulties. They have been researching the benefits of using social stories and would like to offer a social story for a visit to Prince Edward Theatre. They know that people with autism find social situations difficult and understand that we are all unique. You can view the social story for Prince Edward theatre by clicking here.

Parking: If you're driving into the West End to see the show, take advantage of the Q-Park Theatreland Parking Scheme saving you 50% off car parking for up to 24 hours. To qualify, present your Q-Park car park ticket for validation at the box office. Please note the discount does not apply to the pre-booking service, for full terms and conditions, participating car parks and locations visit: www.q-park.co.uk/theatreland. There is also parking available at Meters at Soho Square (approx 200m) and NCP at Brewer Street.

 

Location : Prince Edward Theatre, Old Compton Street London W1D 4HS

Transport: Rail : Charing Cross (National Rail) then 8 minutes. Underground: Leicester Square (Northern Line, Piccadilly Line) then 5 minutes. London Buses routes : 3, 6, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 19, 22, 23, 38, 88, 94, 139, 159 and 453 stop close by.

What's On

Seating Plan.

Access Line : 0344 482 5137

Tel: 0844 482 5151