51 Shaftesbury Avenue
(3mins) Take Shaftesbury Avenue along where the famous illuminated signs are. The theatre will be on your left about 100 metres along, just after the Gielgud Theatre.
The Queen’s Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue regularly houses a huge crowd as it presents its daily performance of the world famous musical “Les Miserables” and this is a feat that has been a part of its history for some time, having emerged at the turn of the 20th century in the West End. During its stay in the capital it has seen a number of legendary names pass through its doors and walk on its stage, whilst also becoming the home to some of the world’s most beloved stories. For more than a century now it has been an integral part of the capital and thanks to this long history it also retains charm and character for the audience to enjoy.
When audiences arrive inside the auditorium, the ‘Edwardian Renaissance’ style that welcomes them is the same one that audiences would have seen when the venue opened in 1907, though the outer building is more modern. This is thanks to the Second World War and a German bomb that fell early in the conflict, but having opened in 1907 it has managed to survive two world wars and remain as a vibrant part of the capital. The bomb managed to close the theatre for almost twenty years but it was eventually redesigned and arrived back in the capital to bring audiences new shows.
Such a long history has ensured that the building is a Grade II listed structure and this is a testament to the standing that it has in London, having originally been designed by the man who brought us many other London theatres during his time – W G R Sprague. The venue is named after Queen Alexandra, with the title settled after much debate when it first opened, and it is a fitting name for a structure that is now an institution.
In recent years it has continued to flourish and it is thanks to the high quality shows that it stages that it remains a venue to which audiences flock on a regular basis. It has been the home to productions of the Royal Shakespeare Company, in addition to musicals based on some much-loved classic works of fiction, with “Les Miserables” emerging in 2004 to great fan fare. As a result, it was the Queen’s Theatre, in 2010, that was housing the world famous music when it celebrated its 25th year in London.
There have been many high profile shows to appear at the Queen’s Theatre and whilst it is currently the home to “Les Miserables” it has previously welcomed other well known stories. Upon its opening in 1907 it was production of “The Sugar Bowl” that made it to the stage and as the years rolled on it would gain its reputation as a place to witness some quality productions within the confines of a venue decorated with glorious ‘Edwardian Renaissance’ architecture. So it got off to a good start and would soon welcome more well-received productions.
It would welcome various big names over the next few decades as shows such as “Short Story”, “Stop Flirting”, “Red Night”, “Sunshine Sisters”, “Moonlight in Silver” and others graced the stage. As a result audiences saw everyone from Fred Astaire, Estelle Astaire, Gertrude Lawrence, Basil Rathbone, Margaret Rutherford and others make an appearance. So it is no wonder that audiences were arriving to witness the productions first hand and it remained this way until the moment that the German bomb hit in 1940, leaving the Queen’s Theatre empty until a grand re-opening in 1959.
So with “Rebecca” its previous show from 1940, the Queen’s Theatre returned with “Shakespeare speeches and sonnets, Ages of Man” in 1959 and so began the next era of its history, with productions ranging from Shakespearean classics to other hits.
This brings the venue right up until the modern day; a time in which musicals have graced its stage on regular occasions. In the last decade the venue has been home to a number of shows, that is up until 2004 when it welcome “Les Miserables”, with “The Hobbit” beginning proceedings in 2001. Based on the novel by J R R Tolkien, it would be followed by “The Lord of the Rings” at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in 2007, and laid the foundations of the next ten years.
“Mysteries” would follow at the Queen’s Theatre in 2002, plus various other productions until it welcomed a new production of “The Rocky Horror Show” in 2003, in addition to works from the Royal Shakespeare Company like “The Taming of the Shrew” in 2004 and “The Tamer Tamed” during the same period.
Then “Les Miserables”, having opened at the Barbican Theatre in 1985 and had previously spent many years at the Palace Theatre, transferred to the Queen’s and remains there to this day, welcoming stars from Nick Jonas to Gareth Gates to its stage during its run.
Further Facts about the Queen’s Theatre
• When the venue was hit by a German bomb in 1940, a performance of the show “Rebecca” was still in progress.
• Further names to appear on its stage include John Gielgud, Noel Coward and Maggie Smith, amongst others.
|Monday, 20 Oct, 2014||Queen's Theatre, London||Les Miserables|
|Tuesday, 21 Oct, 2014||Queen's Theatre, London||Les Miserables|
|Wednesday, 22 Oct, 2014||Queen's Theatre, London||Les Miserables|
|Thursday, 23 Oct, 2014||Queen's Theatre, London||Les Miserables|
|Friday, 24 Oct, 2014||Queen's Theatre, London||Les Miserables|
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