Adelphi Theatre (1806-Present)

The Adelphi was founded in 1806 as the Sans Pareil ("Without Compare"), by merchant John Scott, and his daughter Jane (1770–1839). Jane was a British theatre manager, performer, and playwright. Together, they gathered a theatrical company and by 1809 the theatre was licensed for musical entertainments, pantomime, and burletta. She wrote more than fifty stage pieces in an array of genres: melodramas, pantomimes, farces, comic operettas, historical dramas, and adaptations, as well as translations. Jane Scott retired to Surrey in 1819, marrying John Davies Middleton (1790–1867). On 18 October 1819, the theatre reopened under its present name, which was adopted from the Adelphi Buildings opposite.

In its early years, the theatre was known for melodrama, called Adelphi Screamers. Many stories by Charles Dickens were also adapted for the stage here. The theatre itself, makes a cameo appearance in The Pickwick Papers. The Adelphi came under the management of Madame Celeste and comedian Benjamin Webster, in 1844, and Buckstone was appointed its resident dramatist.

The old theatre was demolished, and on 26 December 1858, The New Adelphi was opened and was considered an improvement on the cramped circumstances of the original, which had been described as a "hasty conversion from a tavern hall, permanently kept in its provisional state". The new theatre could seat 1,500 people, with standing room for another 500. The interior was lighted by a Stroud's Patent Sun Lamp, a brilliant array of gas mantles passed through a chandelier of cut-glass.

In the mid-19th century, John Lawrence Toole established his comedic reputation at the Adelphi. Also in the mid-19th century, the Adelphi hosted a number of French operettas. In 1867, however, the Adelphi gave English comic opera a boost by hosting the first public performance of Arthur Sullivan's first opera, Cox and Box. The building was renovated in 1879 and again in 1887 when a public house called The Hampshire Hog and the house next door, and the Nell Gwynne Tavern in Bull Inn Court were all bought by the Gattis, in order to enlarge the Theatre. They also built a new enlarged Facade and part of this can still be seen today above the Crystal Rooms next door to the present Adelphi Theatre.

An actor who performed regularly at the Adelphi in the latter half of the 19th century, William Terriss, was stabbed to death during the run of ‘Secret Service’ on 16 December 1897 whilst entering the Theatre by the royal entrance in Maiden Lane which he used as a private entrance. This is now recorded on a plaque on the wall by the stage door. Outside a neighbouring pub, a sign says that the killer was one of the theatre's stage hands, but Richard Archer Prince committed the murder. It has been said that Terriss' ghost haunts the theatre. Terriss' daughter was Ellaline Terriss, a famous actress, and her husband, actor-manager Seymour Hicks managed the Adelphi for some years at the end of the 19th century. The stage door of the current Adelphi is in Maiden Lane but back then it was in Bull Inn Court. William Terriss would later have a Theatre named after him, the Terriss Theatre in Rotherhithe, later known as the Rotherhithe Hippodrome.

The adjacent, numbers 409 and 410 Strand, were built in 1886–87 by the Gatti Brothers as the Adelphi Restaurant. The frontage remains essentially the same, but with plate glass windows, and, like the theatre, is a Grade II listed building.

On 11 September 1901, the third theatre was opened as the Century Theatre, although the name reverted in 1904. This theatre was built by Frank Kirk to the design of Ernest Runtz. George Edwardes, the dean of London musical theatre, took over management of the theatre in 1908.
The present Adelphi opened on 3 December 1930, redesigned in the Art Deco style by Ernest Schaufelberg. It was named the 'Royal Adelphi Theatre' and re-opened with the hit musical Ever Green, by Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers, based on the book Benn W. Levy. Noël Coward's Words and Music premièred at the theatre in 1932. The operetta Balalaika (a revised version of The Gay Hussars) played at the theatre in 1936, and in 1940 the theatre's name again reverted to 'The Adelphi'.

A proposed redevelopment of Covent Garden by the GLC in 1968 saw the theatre under threat, together with the nearby Vaudeville, Garrick, Lyceum and Duchess theatres. An active campaign by Equity, the Musicians' Union, and theatre owners under the auspices of the Save London Theatres Campaign led to the abandonment of the scheme.

On 27 February 1982 the Adelphi hosted the final night of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company for a concert performance of songs from all thirteen Savoy Operas as well as Cox and Box and Thespis. In 1993, Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group purchased the theatre and completely refurbished it prior to the opening of his adaptation of Sunset Boulevard. The 1998 video of Lloyd Webber's musical Cats was filmed at the theatre.

As the Adelphi Theatre (1940-Present)

Date Play
Nov 6, 2012 The Bodyguard
Mar 10, 2012 Sweeney Todd
Nov 21, 2011 One Man, Two Guvnors
Mar 9, 2010 Love Never Dies
Sep 24, 2009 The Rat Pack
Jun 15, 2009 Derren Brown: Enigma
Jul 6, 2007 Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Jun 20, 2006 Evita
Oct 27, 1997 Chicago
May 29, 1997 Damn Yankees
Jul 12, 1993 Sunset Boulevard
Feb 12, 1985 Me and My Girl
Dec 4, 1984 The Jungle Book
Aug 6, 1984 Lena Horne
Nov 22, 1983 Poppy
Mar 17, 1983 Marilyn
Oct 20, 1982 The American Dream Machine
Oct 25, 1979 My Fair Lady
Jun 19, 1979 Charley's Aunt
1978 Beyond the Rainbow
1975 Irene
1974 A Little Night Music
1973 The King and I
1970 Green Room Rags
1970 Show Boat
1969 Charlie Girl
1966 Green Room Rags
1965 Charlie Girl
1964 Maggie May
1963 Six of One
1963 Green Room Rags
1963 Marcel Marceau
1962 Blitz
1962 London Laughs
1961 The Music Man
1961 Scapa
1960 Cinderella
1960 Once Upon a Mattress
1960 Little Darling
1959 When in Rome
1959 Auntie Mame
1959 Freres Jacques
1959 Cyrano de Bergerac
1958 A Raisin in the Sun
1958 The French Mistress
1957 Simply Heaven
1957 Classical Theatre of China
1956 United Notions
1956 The Country Wife
1955 Such is Life
1954 The Talk of the Town
1953 You'll Be Lucky
1951 Ballet Russe
1951 The Moment of Truth
1951 Behind the Throne
1951 Danzes Latino-America
1950 Take It From Us
1950 Ram Gopal
Dec 7, 1949 Castle in the Air
1949 Golden City
1948 Tough at the Top
1947 Bless the Bridge
1946 Les Ballets des Camps Elysees
1945 Cinderella
1945 Big Ben
1945 Can-Can
1944 Sweet Yesterday
1944 Desert Rats
1942 Russian Ballet
1941 The Dancing Years

As the Royal Adelphi Theatre (1930-1940)

Date Play
1940 Fig Leaves
1938 Happy Returns
1938 Bobby Get Your Gun
1937 The Laughing Cavalier
1937 Aladdin
1936 Blackbirds
1936 Transatlantic Rhythm
1936 Home and Beauty
1936 Balalaika
1935 Follow the Sun
Dec 17, 1934 The Winning Post
Nov 12, 1934 Journey's End
1934 Mr. Wittington
1934 Stop Press
1933 Nymph Errant
1933 She Loves Me Not
1933 Magnolia Street
1932 Words and Music
1931 Grand Hotel
1931 Helen!
1930 Ever Green

As the Adelphi Theatre (1904-1929)

Date Play
1929 Brothers
1929 The House That Jack Built
1928 Mr. Cinders
1927 Clowns in Clover
1927 One-Act Plays
1926 Broadway
1926 Merely Molly
1926 Peter Pan
1925 The Green Hat
1925 Betty in Mayfair
1924 Iris
1924 Peter Pan
1924 Clo-Clo
Jun 2, 1924 The Ware Case
1923 Diplomacy
1922 The Island King
1922 Peter Pan
1922 Battling Butler
1921 The Way of the Eagle
1921 The Golden Moth
1920 The Naughty Princess
1919 Who's Hooper?
1917 The Boy
1916 High Jinks
1915 Tina
1911 The Quaker Girl
1907 Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch
1907 Aladdin
1907 The Dairymaids
1906 The Corsican Brothers
1905 Dr. Wake's Patient
1905 A Midsummer Night's Dream
1904 The Earl and The Girl
1904 The Comedy of Errors
1904 Hamlet
1904 Under Which King?
1904 The Taming of the Shrew

As the Century Theatre (1901-1903)

Date Play
1903 The Earl and The Girl
1902 The Silver King
1902 Captain Kettle
1902 The Worst Woman in London

As the New Adelphi Theatre (1858-1900)

Date Play
1899 Quo Vadis
1899 Bonnie Dundee
Dec 26, 1898 Dick Whittington
Nov 1898 A Kiss in the Dark
Nov 1898 The Man in the Iron Mask
1898 Cyrano de Bergerac
1898 Hamlet
1897 In the Days of the Duke
1896 Black-Eyed Susan
1895 The Swordsman's Daughter
1894 Fatal Card
1892 The Black Domino
1891 The Lights of Home
1889 The English Rose
1888 Harbour Lights
1883 In the Ranks
1881 It's Never Too Late To Mend
1879 The Hunchback
1879 Forbidden Fruit
1879 The Maid of Croissey
1877 Proof
1876 The Shaughraum
1876 True to the Core
1876 Arrah-Na-Pogue
1875 Peep O'Day
1874 The Geneva Cross
1859 It's An Ill Wind That Blows Nobody Good

As the Adelphi Theatre (1806-1858)

Date Play
1857 Poll and My Partner Joe
1855 Charlotte Corday
1854 Helping Hands
1854 Janet Pride
1853 The Thirst of Gold
1850 The Couriers of Lyons
1849 Domestic Economy
1848 The Haunted Man and The Ghost's Bargain
1844 The Green Bushes
1842 Antony & Cleopatra
Nov 1840 The Old Curiosity Shop
Nov 1838 Nicholas Nichleby
Apr 3, 1837 The Pickwick Papers
Oct 13, 1834 The Christening
1832 The Divorce
1829 Bonnie Prince Charlie
1828 Don Juan
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License