St Martin's Theatre Facade

St Martin's Theatre Facade

St Martin's Theatre  Interior

St Martin's Theatre Interior

 

St Martin's Theatre is a West End theatre which has staged the production of The Mousetrap since March 1974, making it the longest continuous run of any show in the world.

The theatre is located in West Street, near Shaftesbury Avenue, in the West End of London. It was designed by W. G. R. Sprague as one of a pair of theatres, along with the Ambassadors Theatre, also in West Street. Richard Verney, 19th Baron Willoughby de Broke, together with B. A. (Bertie) Meyer, commissioned Sprague to design the theatre buildings. Although the Ambassadors opened in 1913, construction of the St Martin's was delayed by the outbreak of the First World War. The theatre is still part-owned by the present Lord Willoughby de Broke, with Stephen Waley-Cohen.

The first production at the St Martin's was the spectacular Edwardian musical comedy Houp La!, starring Gertie Millar, which opened on 23 November 1916. The producer was the impresario Charles B. Cochran, who took a 21-year lease on the new theatre.

Many famous British actors passed through the St Martin's. In April 1923 Basil Rathbone played Harry Domain in R.U.R. and in June 1927 Henry Daniell appeared there as Gregory Brown in Meet the Wife. Successes at the theatre included Hugh Williams's play (later a film) The Grass is Greener, John Mortimer's The Wrong Side of the Park, and in 1970 the thriller Sleuth.

After Cochran, Bertie Meyer ran the theatre intermittently until 1967, when his son R. A. (Ricky) Meyer became administrator for the next two decades. The St Martin's was Grade II listed by English Heritage in March 1973. In March 1974 Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap transferred from the Ambassadors to the St Martin's, where it continues its run today, holding the record for the longest continuously running show in the world. It has exceeded 26,000 performances at the St Martin's.

The proposed name for the Theatre, when it was first discussed in 1912, was to be the Irving Theatre, after Henry Irving, but the name was not used in the end and the Theatre actually opened as the St. Martin's Theatre. The Irving Theatre name was eventually used for a small review Theatre nearby in Leicester Square which opened in 1951 as an art gallery by day and a Theatre at night, closing in 1964.

The Architectural Review wrote on the St. Martin's Theatre's opening saying:- 'This building shows a change that has slowly been taking place during recent years. Its interior, instead of revelling in a lavish display of modelled plaster work, tricked out with gold leaf and paint, has an intimate, almost domestic character.

In general style it tends to be what is known as English Georgian and gives one the impression of being a private theatre provided by some patron of the dramatic arts for the entertainment of his guests.

The facade comprises a range of columns standing on a plain base and entablature and parapet. On this cornice, at the centre, is a large bronzed cartouche with flags grouped around, and on either side arevases. The proscenium and flanking walls of the auditorium are panelled their full height in Italian walnut with a range of columns and pilasters on either side, with gilded capitals and bases, carrying a bold entablature which is continued across the proscenium.'

The above text in quotes is from 'The Architectural Review' of 1916. Note that the article describes the woodwork as Italian Walnut but an advertisement for Elliot & Sons Reading Ltd who supplied the woodwork for the Theatre says that it was African Walnut so this is the most likely.

The original plan was to build two Theatres side by side at the same time, The Ambassadors and St. Martin's, but the war caused the building of the second Theatre, St. Martin's, to be delayed until 1916. Both Theatres were designed by the well known Theatre Architect W. G. R. Sprague.

The world's longest running play 'The Mousetrap' by Agatha Christie, started its run at the Ambassadors Theatre next door to St. Martin's on the 25 November 1952, with Richard Attenborough and his wife Sheila Sim in the lead roles, before moving to St. Martins Theatre in 1974 where it is still going strong today. In November 2012 the production celebrated its 60th year in the West End.

A Gala performance for the play's 25,000th performance was staged at the Theatre in aid of 'Mousetrap Theatre Projects' and consisted of a performance in costume by celebrity guests who acted the play but read from the script. The gala cast included Hugh Bonneville, Miranda Hart, Patrick Stewart, Julie Walters, Harry Lloyd, Iain Glen, Tamsin Greig, and Nicholas Farrell, who had less than 24 hours to learn the play and memorise the stage directions. To celebrate its 60 year run the play also began its first ever tour in September 2012 for a projected 60 week run.

Venue Access Information.

Patrons with specific access or seating requirements should book with the Box Office direct on 020 3034 2604. Bookings for specific seats should be made early to avoid disappointment. Bookings and enquires can also be taken by email at access@stmartinstheatre.co.uk .

* Information. * Please click here for a list of assisted performances.

Patrons with disabilities. They have prepared a Visual Story for children and young adults with sensory sensitivities. It is intended to help them prepare for a new experience and to become familiar with the new surroundings. Please click here to download it.

Patrons with walking difficulties. The St Martin's Theatre is located in West Street. It is situated next to the Ambassadors Theatre and opposite the Ivy Restaurant. There are 3 shallow steps from the pavement to swing doors through to the foyer, where you will find the box office to your left and a souvenir kiosk to your right. There are 5 steps to the back of the dress circle auditorium, where there are two steps between rows. All staircases have handrails and are highlighted. Access to the Stalls and Upper Circle are not suitable for patrons with walking difficulties.

Hearing-impaired patrons. There is an infrared system working throughout the auditorium with both loop and conventional type headsets. Headsets must be booked in advance and a deposit is required. Upon arrival, please speak to a member of staff to receive your headset. Occasionally, performances are Captioned and Sign Interpreted.

Guide dogs and hearing dogs are permitted in the auditorium and staff can dog sit by prior arrangement. Dogs will be looked after in the manager’s office. Please inform the box office at the time of booking. Some performances are Audio Described.

Wheelchair access. Wheelchair access is via a removable ramp through the main entrance - staff will be available to assist. There are two spaces for wheelchairs, one in Box C and one in the dress circle. In Box C, the wheelchair will be raised on a small platform to enable the patron to see over the parapet. It is possible to transfer from a wheelchair to an aisle seat in the dress circle.

Drinks. All of the bars are accessed via stairs. Drinks in plastic cups may be taken into the auditorium.

Adapted toilets. There is an adapted toilet on the dress circle level. Access is via the entrance on Tower Court. Please ask a member of staff, who will be happy to assist with access to the adapted toilet facilities. Toilets: - There are Ladies and Gents toilets on every level of the theatre.

Parking. St Martin’s Theater is located within the London Congestion Charge Zone which applies weekdays from 7am until 6pm (not including bank holidays) and costs £10 per day. If you are driving to the theater after 6pm then you will not have to pay the charge.

St Martin’s is part of the Q-Park Scheme. The nearest Q Park is the 24hr Chinatown car park (20Newport Place,WC2H 7PR). Parking costs approximately £18 for up to 3hrs, and £24 for 4hrs but theatergoers can save 50% if they have their ticket validated at the theater. Ask theater ushers for further details of where to get your ticket stamped. There is also a nearer car park, the NCP Park on Upper St Martin’s Lane, however this is not included in the Q Park Scheme and costs £18 for 4 hours.

 

Location : St. Martin's Theatre, West St, London WC2H 9NZ

Transport: Rail : Charing Cross (National Rail) then 10 minutes. Underground: Leicester Square (Piccadilly Line, Northern Line) then 3 minutes. London Buses routes : 14, 19, 22, 24, 29, 38, 40 and 176 stop close by.

What's On

Seating Plan.

Access Line : 020 3034 2604

Tel: 020 7836 1443