Gielgud Theatre (1906-Present)

The theatre opened on 27 December 1906 as the Hicks Theatre in honour of actor, manager and playwright Seymour Hicks, for whom it was built. Designed by W.G.R. Sprague in Louis XVI style, the theatre originally had 970 seats, but over the years boxes and other seats have been removed. The theatre is a pair with the Queen's Theatre, which opened in 1907 on the adjacent street corner.

The first play at the theatre was a musical called The Beauty of Bath by Hicks and Cosmo Hamilton. My Darling, another Hicks musical, followed in 1907, followed by the successful London production of the Straus operetta, A Waltz Dream in 1908. An astonishing event occurred midway through the run of the theatre's next major work, The Dashing Little Duke (1909), which was produced by Hicks. Hicks' wife, Ellaline Terriss, played the title role (a woman playing a man). When she missed several performances due to illness, Hicks stepped into the role — possibly the only case in the history of musical theatre where a husband succeeded to his wife's role.

In 1909, the American impresario Charles Frohman became sole manager of the theatre and renamed the house Globe Theatre and reopened with His Borrowed Plumes written by Winston Churchill's mother, Lady Randolph Churchill. Another "Globe Theatre", located on Newcastle Street, had been demolished in 1902 to make way for the Aldwych, and so the name became available. A number of notable productions ran at this Shaftesbury Avenue theatre and are listed below. Call It A Day by Dodie Smith opened in 1935 and ran for 509 performances, which was considered very successful for the slow inter-war years.

Terence Frisby's There's a Girl in My Soup, opening in 1966, ran for 1,064 performances at the theatre, a record that was not surpassed until Andrew Lloyd Webber's production of the Olivier Award-winning comedy Daisy Pulls It Off by Densie Deegan opened in April 1983 to run for 1,180 performances, the theatre's longest run.[2] In 1987 Peter Shaffer's play Lettice and Lovage was a hit with Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack, running for 2 years. The Globe was the home of a resident theatre cat named Beerbohm. The tabby's portrait still hangs in the corridor near the stalls. Beerbohm appeared on stage at least once in every production, forcing the actors to improvise. He always chose to occupy certain actors' dressing rooms while they were at the theatre, including Peter Bowles, Michael Gambon and Penelope Keith. Beerbohm was mentioned several times on Desert Island Discs, and he was the only cat to have received a front page obituary in the theatrical publication, The Stage. He died in March 1995 at the age of 20.[3]

Refurbished in 1987, with extensive work on the gold leaf in the auditorium, the theatre is particularly notable for its beautiful circular Regency staircase, oval gallery and tower. The theatre has presented several Alan Ayckbourn premieres, including 1990's Man of the Moment. More recently, Oscar Wilde's classic comedy, An Ideal Husband (1992) and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (2004) saw notable revivals.

In 1994, in anticipation of the 1997 opening of a reconstruction of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre on the South Bank by Sam Wanamaker, the theatre was renamed the Gielgud Theatre in honour of British actor John Gielgud. In 2003, Sir Cameron Mackintosh announced plans to refurbish the Gielgud, including a joint entrance foyer, with the adjacent Queen's Theatre, facing on to Shaftesbury Avenue. Mackintosh's Delfont Mackintosh Theatres took over operational control of the Gielgud from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Theatres in 2006. The Delfont Mackintosh group also consists of the Noël Coward Theatre, Novello Theatre, Prince Edward Theatre, Prince of Wales Theatre, Queen's Theatre, and Wyndham's Theatre.

Work on the facade of the theatre started in March 2007 and the interior restoration, including reinstating the boxes at the back of the dress circle, was completed in January 2008. The theatre is one of the 40 theatres featured in the 2012 DVD documentary series Great West End Theatres, presented by Donald Sinden.

Production History

Date Play
Nov 26, 2011 The Ladykillers
Sep 20, 2011 Yes, Prime Minister
Jun 2, 2011 Lend Me a Tenor
Mar 5, 2011 The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
Sep 17, 2010 Yes, Prime Minister
Apr 1, 2010 Hair
Jun 1, 2009 Avenue Q
Jan 27, 2009 Enjoy
Nov 10, 2008 Bill Bailey - Tinselworm
Sep 6, 2008 Six Characters in Search of an Author
Mar 7, 2008 God of Carnage
Feb 18, 2008 The Pirates of Penzance
Feb 11, 2008 Iolanthe
Jan 30, 2008 The Mikado
Dec 5, 2007 Nicholas Nickleby
Sep 21, 2007 Macbeth
Feb 16, 2007 Equus
Nov 10, 2006 Frost / Nixon
Jul 8, 2006 Canterbury Tales
Mar 29, 2006 The Crucible
Oct 14, 2005 And Then There Were None
May 12, 2005 Some Girls
Jan 28, 2005 Don Carlos
Sep 3, 2004 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Jun 17, 2004 We Happy Few
May 20, 2004 Barbara Cook's Broadway
Apr 19, 2004 Sir John Gielgud - The Centenary Gala
Feb 18, 2004 All's Well That Ends Well
Apr 4, 2003 Tell Me On a Sunday
Dec 20, 2002 Eastward Ho!
Dec 17, 2002 Edward III
Dec 13, 2002 The Roman Actor
Dec 10, 2002 Island Princess
Dec 5, 2002 The Malcontent
Sep 10, 2002 Afterplay
Jan 24, 2002 Humble Boy
Mar 24, 2000 The Graduate
Oct 12, 1999 A Song at Twilight
May 27, 1999 Boyband
Sep 10, 1998 Alarms & Excursions
Feb 26, 1998 Things We Do For Love
Oct 14, 1997 An Ideal Husband
Aug 8, 1997 The Bible: The Complete Word of God
Jun 24, 1997 Shopping & Fucking
May 12, 1997 Jack Dee
Feb 27, 1997 Romance Romance
Nov 13, 1996 Old Wicked Songs
Feb 7, 1996 Chapter Two
Aug 2, 1995 Communicating Doors
Jun 13, 1995 Mama, I Want to Sing
Feb 15, 1995 Design for Living
Nov 2, 1994 Hamlet
Aug 15, 1994 The Winslow Boy
1992 An Ideal Husband
1990 Man of the Moment
1987 Lettice and Lovage
1983 Daisy Pulls It Off
1982 Design for Living
1978 The Rear Column
1976 Damn Edna Everage
1966 There's a Girl in My Soup
1960 A Man For All Seasons
1949 The Lady's Not For Burning
1942 The Petrified Forest
1939 The Importance of Being Earnest
1935 Call It a Day
1931 The Improper Duchess
1925 Fallen Angels
1920 Fedora
1916 Peg o' My Heart
1914 Kismet
1908 A Waltz Dream
1907 Brewster's Millions
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License