32-34 Earlham Street
(5mins) Take Cranbourn Street away from Leicester Square until St Martin’s Lane, where you head left 100 metres to a small roundabout where the theatre can be seen.
The Cambridge Theatre is a more recent addition to the arsenal of theatres that make up London’s West End. Instead of appearing in the 19th century or at the turn of the 20th century, it joined numerous others when it was built at the end of the 1920s and has been used as a cinema and also as a location for some high profile musicals. So whilst it has yet to celebrate a century in the capital, like many of the older venues have, it has still enjoyed a long period of success in the 20th century and into the 21st, with its ongoing production of “Chicago” continuing to draw in the punters in the modern day.
Whilst the venue managed to come out of the Second World War intact, the Cambridge Theatre did undergo refurbishments in the 1950s that changed the decor on the inside, a result to some of less-than-favourable reviews handed to the building by people of the time. This would later be reversed as time went on and it is the only example of change to the theatre since it opened; a stark contrast to venues that have burned down over the centuries or been damaged by the two world wars of the twentieth century.
And so the venue continued into the second half of the twentieth century, becoming a cinema in the 1960s and also hosting various well known shows that have managed to keep it in the public eye (regardless of some of the other lesser-known shows that have appeared on its stage). Before it became the location of some of the most popular musicals in the capital it would house various plays that would bring in the punters, which took the theatre right up to the 1980s and beyond. It was in the 1980s that some of the refurbished colours from the 1950s were removed as well, leaving it in the style that many will enjoy in the modern day.
Such designs include nude statues and tasteful colours, with audiences greeted by light colours in the auditorium. As a result, this design has now been the host to a great deal of shows and this looks set to continue well into the future, whether it is the ongoing musical “Chicago” that continues on its stage, or not.
Having opened in 1930, the Cambridge Theatre has hosted everything from plays and films to musicals, with the last decade or so focusing mostly on musicals (namely “Chicago” as of 2006). The first show to appear on its stage took the form of “Masquerade” by André Charlot and it was followed by various further plays and musicals throughout the 1930s.
Both the 1940s and 1950s saw the venue change hands whilst also continuing the line of shows that had made its name in the 1930s. These included the likes of “A Night in Venice”, “The Reluctant Debutante” and, at the beginning of the 1940s, “Heartbreak Hotel” by George Bernard Shaw, which saw a host of talented performers appear on its stage.
Fast forward to the 1960s and the Cambridge Theatre welcomed Bruce Forsyth in a production of “Little Me” by the American playwright Neil Simon and he is just one of many familiar names that made it to the venue over the next few decades. Others includes the likes of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in “Behind the Fringe” in 1972, Ian McKellen in a production of “Hamlet” in 1971 and Peter O’Toole in a production of “Man and Superman” in 1983. It shows that the theatre was welcoming some top names to its stage and this would continue for the decades ahead, from Lulu and Ron Moody to Bob Carleton and Anita Dobson.
And this brings us to recent years, which have seen some of the biggest musicals appear at the Cambridge Theatre, in addition to the most controversial as well. Well known names like “Grease” and “Fame” have appeared here in the 1990s and early 2000s, in addition to “The Beautiful Game” from future “We Will Rock You” writer Ben Elton. However, prior to “Chicago”, its most famous production was undoubtedly “Jerry Springer the Opera” from writers Stewart Lee and Richard Thomas, which proved to be one of the most controversial show to appear in the West End.
But then there’s “Chicago”, which transferred to the venue having previously appeared at the Adelphi Theatre. It meant that the Cambridge Theatre was welcoming back a production that had previously appeared in the 1970s and was likely to serve it well in the years ahead. And this is what has happened, with audiences continuing to flock to witness the trials and tribulations of Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly in 1920s Chicago, from their imprisonment to their dreams of the spotlight.
Further Facts about the Cambridge Theatre
As the Cambridge Theatre was built in the 1920s, its designs reflect the times and it was modelled on the style that was dominating Germany during the same era, rather than the renaissance style design favoured in the 19th century.
|Friday, 24 Oct, 2014||Cambridge Theatre, London||Matilda The Musical|
|Saturday, 25 Oct, 2014||Cambridge Theatre, London||Matilda The Musical|
|Sunday, 26 Oct, 2014||Cambridge Theatre, London||Matilda The Musical|
|Tuesday, 28 Oct, 2014||Cambridge Theatre, London||Matilda The Musical|
|Wednesday, 29 Oct, 2014||Cambridge Theatre, London||Matilda The Musical|
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