18-22 Greenside Place
The Edinburgh Playhouse is situated on Greenside Place, at the top of Leith Walk and close to the east end of Princes Street. This is less than 10 minute's walk from Waverley Station, 5 minutes walk from the bus station and on various major bus routes.
The Edinburgh Playhouse, like many such venues in the United Kingdom, has quite a history behind it, from its origins as a cinema to the threat of demolition that hung over it during the 1970s. Today it operates as a base for many touring musicals, comedians and music acts and this makes it one of many high profile theatres in the Scottish capital.
John Fairweather was the man behind its design, a Glaswegian who was interested in the look of the Roxy Cinema in New York. Such was his interest, the Playhouse opened resembling this look and from 1929 to 1973 it operated as a single screen cinema, attracting cinemagoers and film stars in abundance.
But just because its time as a cinema was up, it doesn’t mean that the Edinburgh Playhouse’s story was over and instead it would eventually emerge as a musical theatre venue. First, however, there were other ideas in mind, some of which would have involved tearing it down and replacing it with something new. Though the building is now a Category A building under Historic Scotland, meaning that it is protected, this was not the case in 1973 and so today we are lucky that it avoided a terrible fate.
As mentioned the Edinburgh Playhouse is the home of many touring musicals. However, throughout the year it also welcomes a variety of other acts and during August it is one of many venues that houses performances for the Edinburgh International Festival (alongside other venues in town such as the Festival Theatre and the Usher Hall).
Every so often there is great fanfare when “We Will Rock You” arrives in town, usually carrying with it an enormous statue of Freddy Mercury that stands within the nearby Omni Centre (or other decorations that don its glass facade). But this is just one of many musicals that can arrive in town, from West End hits like “Oliver” and “Dirty Dancing” (both in 2012) to the Green Day musical “American Idiot” and beyond.
It also welcomes comedians from Dara O’Briain and Ross Noble to Frankie Boyle and Michael McIntyre (who brought the first episode of his hit show “Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow” to the venue in 2009). There have also been musicians like Van Morrison, Bob Dylan and The Proclaimers, among others, making appearances in recent years.
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