The Queen's Theatre is a West End theatre located in Shaftesbury Avenue on the corner of Wardour Street in the City of Westminster, London. It opened on 8 October 1907 as a twin to the neighbouring Hicks Theatre (now the Gielgud Theatre) which had opened ten months earlier. Both theatres were designed by W. G. R. Sprague.
Original plans were to name the venue Central Theatre, however after lengthy debate, it was named The Queen's Theatre and a portrait of Queen Alexandra was hung in the foyer. The first production at the Queen's Theatre was a comedy by Madeline Lucette Ryley called The Sugar Bowl. It was poorly received and ran for only 36 performances, however the theatre received glowing reviews.
The Stage on 10 October 1907 described the theatre as 'A two-tier house, the Queen's holds about 1200 persons, representing some £300 in money. The colour scheme of the walls and roof is white and gold, while green is the hue of the carpets, hangings and upholstery, and of the very charming velvet tableau curtain. From a spacious and lofty entrance-hall, with passages leading down into the stalls, one ascends by a handsome marble staircase to the dress circle, which runs out over the pit; and there is a fine and roomy saloon at the top. Mr Vedrenne makes a point that 7/6 will be charged for seats in the first three rows only of the dress circle, while but 5/- will be the price of the remaining eight rows, also unreserved, in which evening dress will be optional. On the second tier of the Queen's, which is in the Old Italian Renaissance style and in the building of which the cantilever principle has been adopted, are the upper circle and the shilling gallery. The auditorium is lighted up agreeably with electric lamps and an electrolier, and ample refreshment room and other accommodation will be found to have been provided
Throughout its history, The Queen's Theatre has seen such talents as Peggy Ashcroft, Fred and Adele Astaire, Tallulah Bankhead, Kenneth Branagh, Noël Coward, Henry Daniell, Marlene Dietrich, Robert Donat, Edith Evans, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., John Gielgud, Cedric Hardwicke, Jack Hawkins, Nigel Hawthorne, Celia Johnson, Jane Lapotaire, Alec Guinness, Rachel Kempson, Gertrude Lawrence, Robert Morley, Stephen Fry, Anthony Quayle, Basil Rathbone, Michael Redgrave, Miranda Richardson, Margaret Rutherford, Fiona Shaw, Nigel Havers, Maggie Smith, Sybil Thorndike, Nick Jonas,and Ramin Karimloo. Recent notable shows at the Queen's include the Tony Award winning musical Contact; Cyberjam, a production by the Emmy and Tony Award winning creators of Blast!; and The Taming of the Shrew.
In September 1940, a German bomb landed directly on the theatre, destroying the facade and lobby areas. The production at the time was Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca starring Celia Johnson, Owen Nares and Margaret Rutherford. The theatre remained closed until a ₤250,000 restoration was completed by Westwood Sons & Partners almost 20 years later. The auditorium retained its Edwardian decor while the lobbies and exterior were rebuilt in a modern style. The reconstructed theatre opened 8 July 1959 with John Gielgud's solo performance in Shakespeare speeches and sonnets, Ages of Man.
Since April 2004, the theatre has played host to Cameron Mackintosh's production of Les Misérables which transferred after 18 years at the nearby Palace Theatre. The musical celebrated its 20th anniversary at the venue on 8 October 2005 and overtook Cats as the longest running musical of all time a year later on 8 October 2006. The theatre was Grade II listed by English Heritage in June 1972. An extensive refurbishment was undertaken in the latter half of 2009 which improved public areas and increased capacity with new seating and boxes reinstated at dress circle level.
The Queen's Theatre opened on the 8th of October 1907 with a comedy called 'The Sugar Bowl' by Madeleine Lucette Ryley. The Theatre was designed by W. G. R. Sprague and was one of two Theatres designed by him next to each other on Shaftesbury Avenue. The first was the Hicks Theatre (later the Globe and now the Gielgud) which opened in 1906 and then later the Queen's Theatre which opened in 1907. Both Theatres were built by Walter Wallis of Balham with frontages of Portland Stone on a site which was formerly an estate agent's premises, comprising of 35 to 49 Shaftesbury Avenue, and seventeen houses in Wardour Street, Rupert Street, and Upper Rupert Street, which is now called Winnet street. The Queen's Theatre auditorium was built on the cantilever system and comprised of three levels, Stalls, Dress Circle, Upper Circle, and Gallery at the rear of the Upper, with a capacity of 1,917 but today the capacity is a more modest 989.
The Queen's Theatre was originally a twin with the Hicks, although slightly larger, but it was bombed during the Second World War on the 24th of September 1940, and suffered considerable damage to its front of house areas, the backs of the circles, and especially to its Facade which was completely destroyed. The Theatre remained closed for nearly 20 years before being rebuilt by Westwood, Sons and Partner, on more modern lines. The Theatre finally reopened on July the 8th 1959 with a production of John Gielgud's Shakespearean Recital 'Ages of Man'.
The Stage reported on the proposals to rebuild and reopen the Queen's Theatre in their April 11th, 1957 edition saying:- 'Contemporary design with an all-glass frontage is planned by the architect Bryan Westwood for the rebuilding of the Queen's, Shaftesbury Avenue, which will be London's first post-war theatre construction. It will cost £200,000, some of which will come under War Damage Commission. Work is to begin soon after Easter. From outside the new building it will be possible to see into the foyer and the saloon bar of the dress circle on the first floor, but it is planned to keep the 1,000 seater auditorium in its original red and gold Edwardian style of decor. It is expected that the theatre will be ready for re-opening in about 18 months' time. Responsible for making the decision to re-open, when so many theatres are closing down all over the country are the Globe and Queen's Theatres Ltd., of which A. H. Montgomery, also a director of H. M. Tennent, is chairman. Bomb-damaged in 1940, during the run of "Rebecca," and London's first war casualty theatre, the Queen's has been closed for 17 years. It was opened in 1907 with "The Sugar Bowl".' The above text in quotes was first published in the Stage, 11th April 1957.
The Queen's Theatre is currently home to the World's longest running musical, 'Les Miserables' which originally opened at the Palace Theatre in October 1985 but transferred to the Queen's on the 3rd of April 2004. The Queen's Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue should not be confused with the earlier 1867 Queen's Theatre on Long Acre which closed in 1887 and was subsequently demolished.
Venue Access Information.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Hearing. Infra-red system with 12 headsets – Free hire upon production of ID. Please collect from the foyer kiosk. You will be asked to sign a receipt. A £5.00 returnable deposit is required for the hire of the headsets. Please contact prior to booking. 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 is through the fourth side door on Wardour Street – please ask a member of staff to open this for you. Level transfers available in Dress Circle Row D (may not be suitable for very low seated wheelchairs). Parking places in Loge 1 and 2 have level access. These will be suitable for wheelchairs which are maximum 1m in length and 64cm wide. Limited Mobility: 18 steps from the foyer up to the rear Dress Circle. 21 steps from the foyer down to the Stalls. 39 steps from the foyer to up the Upper Circle (this area is quite steep).
Toilets. There are toilets on all levels. Disabled Toilets. There is an Adapted toilet with Radar lock in the foyer accessible via a ramped corridor. Please ask a member of staff for assistance.
Bars. There are 4 licenced bars in total; Foyer, Stalls, Dress Circle and Upper Circle. These areas are not accessible by wheelchair but drinks may be brought to disabled patrons sitting the auditorium. Although, the foyer is accessible to wheelchair users, the foyer bar is not.
Autism. 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 the Queen's 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 Queen's theatre by viewing or downloading the social story in PDF format 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 are also 2 spaces for blue badge holders in Archer Street. There is also parking available at NCP at Lexington Street.
Location : Queen's Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 6BA
Access Line : 0344 482 5137
Tel: 0844 482 5160