The Gielgud Theatre is amongst the many theatres that appeared in the capital at the turn of the twentieth century, emerging less than a decade after other well known venues such as the current incarnation of Her Majesty’s Theatre and a year before its sister venue the Queen’s Theatre (designed by the same architect – W G R Sprague). As a result it has enjoyed more than a century of successful productions, which has includes operettas, plays and musicals, bringing it right up to the modern day where it has been the home of shows such as the contentious puppet comedy “Avenue Q” and the play “Yes, Prime Minister”. As a result it is a renowned place to witness some stand-out shows, steeped in history and capable of attracting some top range performers.
Seymour Hicks was the actor and playwright after whom the original name of the venue – the Hicks Theatre – derived and he delivered its earliest productions in its first decade on Shaftesbury Avenue in London. However, it would not continue under this name for long and by the time the 1900s were over, it had changed ownership and was going by the name the Globe Theatre and it was this name that would stick for the rest of the century.
Throughout the twentieth century the then Globe Theatre would have to battle through two world wars and countless losses to the London theatre scene as the result of bombings. But it would remain standing and continues to host shows in the modern day, though there have also been refurbishments made to the interior in both the 1980s and in 2007, so the venue is still an ongoing project. But it’s status as a Grade II listed building means that it will remain on this site for the foreseeable future, where it is likely to flourish as the home to some of the top shows in town.
Having changed its name to the Gielgud Theatre in 1994, it has been lucky to be chosen to stage some high profile shows and welcome some big names. These range from musical performers and actors to comedians and even puppets, meaning that audiences have had a wide range of different productions to witness at the Gielgud Theatre in the modern day. Many of these productions are well known enough to make the news upon their appearance, from the popularity of “Avenue Q” to the nostalgia attached to “Yes, Prime Minister”.
There are countless productions to have taken to the stage of the Gielgud Theatre. When it was going by the name the Hicks Theatre from 1906 to 1909 it naturally hosted some shows from the acclaimed Seymour Hicks. The first of these was “The Beauty of Bath”, a musical comedy which was also penned by Cosmo Hamilton, a tale of love that begins during the interval of a new hit play, with Hicks also appearing as part of its cast. The production would be followed by “My Darling”, another show by Hicks.
In 1925 the Globe Theatre welcomed the premiere production of “Fallen Angels” to its stage, from the legendary playwright Noel Coward. It would star the American actress Tallulah Bankhead, whilst follow up shows across the Atlantic would spring up later in the decade and again in the 1950s.
Then, in 1939, a production would open that would feature the theatre’s future namesake – John Gielgud – who appeared in a production of “The Importance of Being Earnest, a Trivial Comedy for Serious People”. This performance would not only give the theatre its name in future decades, it would also provide the model for which future productions of the show would be compared. Gielgud set the benchmark high in his part of Jack Worthing and people would attempt to emulate him every time the show was revived.
Ever since the venue changed its name to the Gielgud Theatre it has continued to attract some high profile shows, in addition to some big names like Christian Slater, Rachel Weisz and Denise Van Outen. It was also the home to “Frost/Nixon” after transferring from the Donmar Warehouse. Written by Peter Morgan and starring Michael Sheen, the play would later be adapted into an Oscar-nominated movie, retaining the same cast.
In the last decade it has been the home to “Six Characters in Search of an Author” and other well known shows in the forms of “Avenue Q”, “Hair” and “Yes, Prime Minister”. The latter is the latest incarnation of a sitcom that originally aired in the 1980s. Starring David Haig and Henry Goodman in the lead roles, the show would earn many admirers – having transferred from the Chichester Festival Theatre – as it updated the 1980s show for a modern audience and set it against the backdrop of the modern day Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition.
Further Facts about The Gielgud Theatre
• Famous names to have appeared on the stage of the Gielgud Theatre over the years include Bill Bailey, John Gielgud, Richard Burton, Vanessa Redgrave, Rachel Weisz, Denise Van Outen, Christian Slater, David Schwimmer, Michael Sheen, Frank Langella, Daniel Radcliffe, Alison Steadman, David Haig, Henry Goodman and more.
• A portrait near the stalls depicts the old resident theatre cat named Beerbohm, who would appear onstage unexpectedly in the 1980s and 1990s, making him a beloved cat of the then-Globe Theatre.
|Monday, 12 Dec, 2016||Gielgud Theatre, London||The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time|
|Tuesday, 13 Dec, 2016||Gielgud Theatre, London||The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time|
|Wednesday, 14 Dec, 2016||Gielgud Theatre, London||The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time|
|Thursday, 15 Dec, 2016||Gielgud Theatre, London||The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time|
|Friday, 16 Dec, 2016||Gielgud Theatre, London||The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time|
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