New London Theatre (1851-Present)

The modern theatre is built on the site of previous taverns and music hall theatres, where a place of entertainment has been located site since Elizabethan times. Nell Gwynn was associated with the tavern, which became known as the Great Mogul by the end of the 17th century, and presented entertainments in an adjoining hall, including "glee clubs" and "sing-songs". The Mogul Saloon was built on the site in 1847, which was sometimes known as the "Turkish Saloon" or the "Mogul Music Hall." In 1851, it became the Middlesex Music Hall, known as The Old Mo. This in turn was rebuilt as the New Middlesex Theatre of Varieties in 1911 by Frank Matcham for Oswald Stoll.

In 1919, the theatre was sold to George Grossmith, Jr. and Edward Laurillard, refurbished and reopened as the Winter Garden Theatre. They produced Kissing Time (1919), followed by A Night Out (1920), both starring Stanley Holloway. Grossmith and Laurillard also became managers of the Apollo Theatre in 1920. But expanding their operation caused Grossmith and Laurillard to end their partnership, with Grossmith retaining control of the Winter Garden.

Grossmith then partnered with George Edwardes's former associate, Pat Malone, to produce a series of mostly adaptations of imported shows at the Winter Garden between 1920 and 1926. Grossmith co-wrote some of the Winter Garden pieces, directed many of his own productions and starred in several, notably as Otis in Sally. Several of the later productions lost money, and Grossmith and Malone ended the partnership. The theatre was dark from about 1936 until 1942 and closed permanently in 1959 when it was sold by the Rank Organisation to a developer. It was then gutted and remained vacant until 1965 to be replaced in 1973 by the current building.

Designed by architect Paul Tvrtkovic and scenic designer Sean Kenny (Blitz!, Oliver!, Pickwick), modelled after the Walter Gropius Total-Theater, and seating 960 on 2 levels, the theatre's auditorium first opened with a television recording of Marlene Dietrich's one-woman show. The theatre officially opened on 2 January 1973 with a production of The Unknown Soldier and His Wife starring Peter Ustinov. It then hosted Grease, starring Richard Gere as Danny. Beginning in 1977, the theatre was used as a television studio for several years and then returned to use as a theatre. The theatre's biggest hit was the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Trevor Nunn musical Cats, choreographed by Gillian Lynne which premièred in the theatre on 11 May 1981. Closing in 2002, this production became the longest running musical in West End history.

The theatre also hosted the 1977 BBC Sports Personality of the Year and the Masters snooker between 1976 and 1978. Also in 1977, the theatre hosted the BBC's A Song For Europe contest, the preliminary heat to choose the UK entry for the Eurovision Song Contest. However, the show was blacked out on TV due to a last minute strike by technicians. Another great fact, the famous video clip for the song We Are The Champions by the band Queen was shot there on October 1977, which followed a minor 70-min. concert.

The theatre has been owned since 1991 by Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Theatres. The theatre building also contains an underground car park, a cabaret venue, a basement nightclub, shops and a residential tower. In November 2007, Really Useful Theatres Ltd announced that the New London is to be put up for sale and they are now inviting offers. The RSC confirmed in a January issue of The Stage, that they would not buy the theatre as they are concentrating on refurbishment of their existing venues in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Production History

As the New London Theatre (1973-Present

Date Play
Mar 28, 2009 War Horse
Nov 4, 2008 Imaigne This
Apr 5, 2008 Gone With the Wind
Nov 21, 2007 The Seagull
Nov 14, 2007 King Lear
Nov 10, 2005 Blue Man Group
Feb 13, 2003 Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Sep 6, 2002 Umoja
May 11, 1981 Cats

(A TV Studio from 1977 to 1981)

Date Play
Grease
Jan 2, 1973 The Unknown Soldier & His Wife

As the Winter Garden Theatre (1919-1959)

Date Play
1958 The Iceman Cometh
1956 The Devil's Disciple
1956 Hotel Paradiso
1956 The Water Gypsies
1953 Witness For the Prosecution
Apr 19, 1943 The Vagabond King

(Dark from 1935-1942)

Date Play
1935 Love On the Dole
1933 On the Rocks
1930 Follow A Star
1929 Funny Face
Mar 1, 1928 The Spider
1927 The Vagabond King
1926 Kid Boots
1925 Tell Me More
1924 Promise
1923 Walk This Way
1923 The Beauty Prize
1923 Tonight's the Night
1922 The Cabaret Girl
1921 Sally
1920 A Night Out
1919 Kissing Time
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