There have been many theatres built on the site of the current Adelphi Theatre, meaning that the location’s theatrical history dates back to 1806 and in the years since that date it has welcomed an abundance of productions. These not only include the well known musicals that dominate its stage in the modern day, but also includes plays, pantomimes and melodramas, amongst others. It lends to a vibrant history and one that will continue well into the future, with its status as a Grade II listed building ensuring its place in the London theatre scene for as long as possible.
The original venue lasted from 1806 to 1858 and went by the names the Sans Pareil, eventually making way to The New Adelphi that opened its doors in 1858. This incarnation of the theatre would last for the rest of the century, only to be rebuilt in 1901 under the new name of the Century Theatre (a name that only stuck for three years before being reverted to its former title). Then the latest version of the Adelphi – then known as the Royal Adelphi Theatre - appeared on the London theatre scene in 1930, joining many other venues as an art-deco designed addition to the landscape.
And this version has lasted right to the modern day, surviving the Second World War along the way so that what remains is a historically important theatrical landmark. The decades have seen it remain amongst the best places to showcase some of the best musicals around and as a result it has been a welcome part of the West End, so much so that there was great fear about its future in 1960s when Covent Garden was proposed for redevelopment. Such threats have since been avoided by its listed status, meaning that it falls under historical preservation.
The Adelphi Theatre has entered the 21st century proud, with numerous well known composers like Andrew Lloyd Webber bringing their most famous shows to the venue over the years, from “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” to the anticipated follow up to the Phantom of the Opera entitled Love Never Dies. Such productions have ensured that audiences have continued to flock to the Adelphi Theatre and this is likely to remain the case well into the future, whatever shows make it to the stage – new or old.
As the venue has taken on many different forms it has also welcomed a host of different shows, from a range of background and styles. Some of them have been famous productions tied to a particular era, whilst others have remained timeless classics that audiences continue to enjoy today. Composers like Andrew Lloyd Webber and big names like Lee Mead, Brian Wilson and Derren Brown have appeared on its stage and this has only helped to make the venue flourish into its current form, from Ramin Karimloo taking to the stage as the Phantom in “Love Never Dies” to Gareth Gates replacing Lee Mead in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”.
In the third incarnation of the venue, an early blockbuster musical took the form of “The Quaker Girl”, a musical that premiered at the Adelphi in 1910 and would be later seen on stages all over the world. James T Tanner wrote the book with lyrics from Percy Greenback and Adrian Ross, depicting a story that looked at both the Quakers and the Parisian lifestyle, contrasting the two different worlds. It appeared on stages across the 20th century and would go on to be a popular piece, with an appearance in the United States marking the latest time in which it was performed in the second half of the 2000s.
The modern incarnation of the venue would welcome a wide range of productions, including the 1938 play “Dear Octopus”, which would go on to be adapted into a movie starring Margaret Lockwood. Dodie Smith’s comedy would star Marie Tempest in a final appearance in the capital, with the 1940s following with productions such as “The Dancing Years” and “Bless the Bride”. Then, as the decades rolled on, productions ranging from “Show Boat” in 1971 to “A Little Night Music” in 1975 would make their way to the Adelphi Theatre, in addition to various other comedies and even operas.
In the last few decades the Adelphi has been the home of many high profile shows, from Chicago, which lasted almost ten years before transferring to the Cambridge Theatre, to “Evita” from Andrew Lloyd Webber”. Derren Brown also brought his show “Enigma” to the venue in 2009, whilst Andrew Lloyd Webber’s return with “Love Never Dies” would bring great scrutiny to the theatre, with everyone wanting to know if it lived up to the expectations set by “The Phantom of the Opera”.
Further Facts about the Adelphi Theatre
During the time of the second incarnation of the theatre in 1897, actor William Terris was murdered on the way to the theatre before his performance in the show “Secret Service”. This has led to reports of a ghost at the venue.
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