Walter John "Jack" Buchanan was a Scottish theatre and film actor, dancer and director. He was known for three decades as the embodiment of the debonair man-about-town in the tradition of George Grossmith Jr. and was described by The Times as "the last of the knuts." He is best known in America for his role in the classic Hollywood musical The Band Wagon in 1953. Buchanan was born in Helensburgh, Scotland, the son of Walter John Buchanan Sr, his wife, Patricia, née McWatt, he was educated at the Glasgow Academy. After a brief attempt to follow his late father's profession and a failure at acting in Glasgow, he came to London and became a music hall comedian under the name of Chump Buchanan and first appeared on the West End in September 1912 in the comic opera The Grass Widow at the Apollo Theatre. Hardship dogged him for a while, he acted in his own plays both in London and New York City. Buchanan's health was not robust, and, to his bitter regret, he was declared unfit for military service in the First World War.
He appeared with some success in West End shows during the war, attracting favourable notices as a "knut" in the mould of George Grossmith Jr, achieved front rank stardom in André Charlot's 1921 revue A to Z, appearing with Gertrude Lawrence. Among his numbers in the show was Ivor Novello's "And Her Mother Came Too", which became Buchanan's signature song; the show transferred to Broadway in 1924. For the rest of the 1920s and 1930s he was famous for "the lazy but most accomplished grace with which he sang, danced and joked his way through musical shows.... The tall figure, the elegant gestures, the friendly drawling voice, the general air of having a good time." During the Second World War he starred in his own musical production "It's Time to Dance", whose cast included Fred Emney. The musical show was based on a book by Douglas Furber and L. Arthur Rose, was staged at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London, he made his film debut in the silent cinema, in 1917 and appeared in about three dozen films in his career.
In 1938, Buchanan achieved the unusual feat of starring in the London stage musical This'll Make You Whistle while concurrently filming a film version. The film was released. Other starring roles included Monte Carlo and Grab and The Gang's All Here, he produced several films including Happidrome and The Sky's the Limit, which he directed. He continued to work on Broadway and the West End and took roles in several Hollywood musicals, including The Band Wagon, his best-known film, in which he plays camp theatre director Jeffrey Cordova opposite Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse, he suffered from spinal arthritis, though this did not stop him from performing several dance numbers with Astaire in Band Wagon. Buchanan's British stage appearances included A to Z, Battling Butler, Sunny, That's a Good Girl, Stand up and Sing, Mr Whittington, This'll Make You Whistle, Top Hat and Tails, The Last of Mrs Cheyney, Fine Feathers, Canaries Sometimes Sing, Don't Listen, Ladies!, Castle in the Air, King's Rhapsody and As Long as They're Happy.
His first pantomime appearance was as "Buttons" in Cinderella. His productions included The Women, The Body was Well Nourished, Waltz Without End, It's Time to Dance, A Murder for a Valentine, Treble Trouble and The Lady Asks for Help. Buchanan's American stage appearances included: André Charlot's Revues, Charles B. Cochran's Wake Up and Dream, Pardon My English, Between the Devil and Harvey. Buchanan's Hollywood films included The Show of Shows, Monte Carlo and The Band Wagon, his British films included Yes, Mr Brown, Vienna, That's a Good Girl, Brewster's Millions, Come Out of the Pantry, When Knights Were Bold, This'll Make You Whistle and Grab, The Sky's the Limit, Break the News, The Gang's All Here, The Middle Watch, Bulldog Sees It Through, As Long as They're Happy and Josephine and Men. He made The Diary of Major Thompson. Buchanan was a frequent broadcaster on British radio during the Second World War. Programmes included The Jack Buchanan Show and, in 1955, the hugely popular eight-part series Man About Town.
On 12 June 1928, Buchanan participated in the first-ever outside television broadcast, conducted by John Logie Baird. Television appearances in the USA included Max Liebman's Spotlight in The Ed Sullivan Show. In a British tradition of actor-management, Buchanan produced his own shows, many of which were premiered in the Alhambra Theatre, Glasgow, he was heavily involved in the more commercial side of British show-business. He was responsible, with partners, for the building and ownership of the Leicester Square Theatre and the Imperial in Brighton, he controlled the Garrick Theatre in the West End of London and the King's Theatre in Hammersmith. Jack Buchanan Productions owned Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, he had been at school with the pioneer of television John Logie Baird and with him co-owned Television Limited, which manufactured and rented televisions. Not all his business ventures were profitable, at his death his estate was valued for probate at £24,489. Buchanan's image was that of the raffish eternal bachelor, but he was, unknown to most, married to Saffo Arnau in 19
Hyde Park Corner
Hyde Park Corner is an area in London, located around a major road junction at the southeastern corner of Hyde Park, designed by Decimus Burton. Six streets converge at the junction: Park Lane, Constitution Hill, Grosvenor Place, Grosvenor Crescent and Knightsbridge. Hyde Park Corner tube station, a London Underground station served by the Piccadilly line, is located at the junction, as are a number of notable monuments. To the north of the junction is Apsley House, the home of the first Duke of Wellington. During the second half of the 1820s, the Commissioners of Woods and Forests and the King resolved that Hyde Park, the area around it, must be renovated to the extent of the splendor of rival European capital cities, that the essence of the new arrangement would be a triumphal approach to Buckingham Palace, completed; the committee of the project, led by the Prime Minister, Lord Liverpool, advised by Charles Arbuthnot, President of the Board of Commissioners of Woods and Forests, selected Decimus Burton as the project's architect: in 1828, when giving evidence to a Parliamentary Select Committee on the Government's spending on public works, Arbuthnot explained that he had nominated Burton'having seen in the Regent's Park, elsewhere, works which pleased my eye, from their architectural beauty and correctness'.
Burton intended to create an urban space dedicated to the celebration of the House of Hanover, national pride, the nation's heroes. The renovation of Hyde Park, Green Park, St James's Park, began, in 1825, with the demarcation of new drives and pathways, subsequent to which Burton designed new lodges and gates, viz. Cumberland Gate, Stanhope Gate, Grosvenor Gate, the Hyde Park Gate/Screen at Hyde Park Corner, the Prince of Wales's Gate, Knightsbridge, in the classical style. There were no authoritative precedents for such buildings, which required windows and chimney stacks, in the classical style, and, in the words of Guy Williams,'Burton's reticent treatment of the supernumerary features' and of the cast iron gates and railings, was'greatly admired'. At Hyde Park Corner, the King required that'some great ceremonial outwork that would be worthy of the new palace that lay to its rear', accepted Burton's consequent proposal for a sequence comprising a gateway and a classical screen, a triumphal arch, which would enable those approaching Buckingham Palace from the north to ride or drive first through the screen and through the arch, before turning left to descend Constitution Hill and enter the forecourt of Buckingham Palace through Nash's Marble Arch.
The screen became the Roman revival Hyde Park Gate/Screen at Hyde Park Corner, which delighted the King and his Committee, which architectural historian Guy Williams describes as'one of the most pleasing architectural works that have survived from the neo-classical age'. The triumphal arch became the Wellington Arch at Constitution Hill into Green Park, described as'one of London's best loved landmarks'. Burton's original design for the triumphal arch, modelled on the Arch of Titus at Rome, on which the central and side blocks of the Screen had been modelled, was more technically perfect, coherent with the Screen, than that of the arch, subsequently built: this original design, was rejected by the Committee - who had envisaged a design based on the Arch of Constantine - because it was not sufficiently ostentatious. Burton created a new design,'to pander to the majestic ego', much larger and modelled on a fragment found in the Ancient Roman forum, accepted on 14 January 1826, subsequently built as the present Wellington Arch.
The arch at Constitution Hill was left devoid of decorative sculpture as a result of the moratorium in 1828 on public building work, instead, despite the absolute objection of Burton, was mounted with an ungainly equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington by Matthew Cotes Wyatt, the son of the recently deceased James Wyatt, selected by statue's commissioner, one of its few subsequent advocates, Sir Frederick Trench. Matthew Cotes Wyatt was not competent: Guy Williams contends that he were'not noticeably talented', the Dictionary of National Biography that'thanks to royal and other influential patronage, Wyatt enjoyed a reputation and practice to which his mediocre abilities hardly entitled him'. Trench, his patrons the Duke and Duchess of Rutland, had told the public subscribers to the statue that the statue would be place on top of Burton's triumphal arch at Hyde Park Corner: Burton expressed his opposition to this proposal'as plainly and as vehemently as his nature allowed' over successive years, because the ungainly statue would'disfigure' his arch, for which it was much too large, the surrounding neighbourhood, because it would have to be placed, contrary to all classical precedent, instead of parallel with, the roadway under the arch.
Burton had envisaged that his arch would be topped with only a small quadriga whose horses would have been parallel with the road under the arch. Burton's objections were extensively endorsed by most of the aristocratic residents of London. A writer in The Builder asked Lord Canning, the First Commissioner for Woods and Forests, to ban the project: "We have learnt, can state positively, that Mr. Burton has the strongest objection possible against placing the group in question on the archway... and that he is taking no part whatever in the alteration proposed to be made in the upper part of the structur
Alfie Bass was an English actor. He was born in Bethnal Green, the youngest in a Jewish family with ten children, he appeared in a variety of stage, film and radio productions throughout his career. After leaving primary school in Bethnal Green at the age of 14, he worked as a tailor's apprentice, a messenger boy and a shop-window display fitter, before taking to the stage. Bass's acting career began at Unity Theatre, London in the late 1930s, appearing in Plant in the Sun alongside Paul Robeson, as the pantomime King in Babes In the Wood. After the outbreak of the Second World War, Bass joined the Middlesex Regiment as a despatch rider. Despite being kept busy with his duties, he found time to become involved in concert parties, as well as taking part in documentaries for the Army Film Unit, his stage career included plays by Shaw. During the 1950s he continued to direct shows at Unity, on one occasion appeared in court charged with putting on a play without a licence, his stage work included an adaptation of Gogol's short story "The Bespoke Overcoat", transposed to the East End of London, filmed by Jack Clayton in 1956, won the Oscar for best short.
Bass took over from Chaim Topol in the role of Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof on the West End stage Bass first appeared on film in wartime documentaries. He appeared in a number of feature films including The Lavender Hill Mob, Hell Drivers, A Tale of Two Cities and Alfie starring Michael Caine and Shelley Winters. In the latter he played Harry Clamacraft, a man Alfie befriends in a sanatorium, he starred in Roman Polanski's vampire film The Fearless Vampire Killers as innkeeper Yoine Shagal with his daughter Sarah played by Sharon Tate. In the course of the film, he and his daughter become vampires; when a maid tries to scare him off with a crucifix, he responds with "Oy, have you got the wrong vampire!". Bass appeared in the "Pride" segment of The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins and had a leading role in the 1977 sex comedy Come Play with Me, he has had many cameo roles, such as the Indian restaurant doorman in the Beatles' film Help!, as Clouseau's seafaring informant in Revenge of the Pink Panther, in Moonraker, in which he was cast as a heavy smoking hard drinker.
Bass had a small part. In his book British Film Character Actors, Terence Pettigrew remembers, "there was a time when no British film seemed complete without Alfie Bass popping up in some guise of other. Playing the same character, he has hopped chirpily from drama to comedy and into costume pieces and back like an energised sparrow. To all of these, he has added an engaging warmth and sanguinity". Bass appeared as a poacher rescued by Robin in the first episode of The Adventures of Robin Hood starring Richard Greene, he appeared in The Army Game, a British TV comedy series, as Private Montague'Excused Boots' Bisley, its sequel Bootsie and Snudge from 1960–63 working at a Gentleman's Club with Bill Fraser as'Claude Snudge' and Clive Dunn as'Henry Beerbohm Johnson'. Bass played the character in another spin-off, Foreign Affairs in 1964. Bass played Lemuel "Lemmy" Barnet in the third and fourth series of the landmark 1950s science fiction radio series Journey into Space, he continued working throughout the 1970s and'80s, in TV series Till Death Us Do Part, Are You Being Served? as Mr. Goldberg, the second in a series of replacements for Arthur Brough's Mr. Grainger character.
As in the Mr. Goldberg role, he emphasised his Jewish background in on-screen characterisations, he played a memorable Silas Wegg in the BBC's 1976 adaptation of Dickens's Our Mutual Friend. He played Isaac Rag in a scene-stealing recurring character role in the 1979-1980 Dick Turpin series and as Morrie Levin, a shrewd accountant in the Minder episode The Sun Also Rises, he guest starred in two episodes of the British comedy television The Goodies, in which he appeared as the "Town Planner" in Camelot, as the Giant in The Goodies and the Beanstalk. He was a subject of the television programme This Is Your Life in March 1970 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews. In 1955 he recorded the novelty song "Pity the Downtrodden Landlord". Bass died of a heart attack on 15 July 1987 in London, his last home was in a suburb of Borehamwood, Hertfordshire. Alfie Bass on IMDb Alfie Bass at the BFI's Screenonline Alfie Bass's appearance on This Is Your Life
Duke of York's Theatre
The Duke of York's Theatre is a West End Theatre in St Martin's Lane, in the City of Westminster, London. It was built for Frank Wyatt and his wife, Violet Melnotte, who retained ownership of the theatre until her death in 1935, it opened on 10 September 1892 with The Wedding Eve. The theatre, designed by the architect Walter Emden became known as the Trafalgar Theatre in 1894 and the following year became the Duke of York's to honour the future King George V. One of the earliest musical comedies, Go-Bang, was a success at the theatre in 1894. In 1900, Jerome K. Jerome's Miss Hobbs was staged as well as David Belasco's Madame Butterfly, seen by Puccini, who turned it into the famous opera; this was the theatre where J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up debuted on 27 December 1904. Many famous British actors have appeared here, including Basil Rathbone, who played Alfred de Musset in Madame Sand in June 1920, returning in November 1932 as the Unknown Gentleman in Tonight or Never.
The theatre was Grade II listed by English Heritage in September 1960. In the late 1970s the freehold of the theatre was purchased by Capital Radio and it closed in 1979 for refurbishment, it reopened in February 1980 and the first production under the patronage of Capital was Rose, starring Glenda Jackson. In 1991 comedian Pat Condell performed sketches at the theatre which were released on DVD; the Ambassador Theatre Group bought the theatre in 1992. A host of successes followed including the 21st anniversary performance of Richard O'Brien's The Rocky Horror Show and the Royal Court Classics Season in 1995; the theatre is the London headquarters of the Ambassador Theatre Group, as well as the producing offices of their subsidiary Sonia Friedman Productions, whose revival of In Celebration starring Orlando Bloom played until 15 September 2007. After Mrs Rochester by Polly Teale Sweet Panic by Stephen Poliakoff Calico by Michael Hastings The Holy Terror by Simon Gray Dirty Blonde by Claudia Shear Journey's End by R.
C. Sherriff The Dresser by Ronald Harwood, starring Nicholas Lyndhurst and Julian Glover Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen, starring Eve Best and Iain Glen Tom and Harry by Ray Cooney and Michael Cooney, starring Joe and Mark McGann I Am My Own Wife by Doug Wright, starring Jefferson Mays Embers by Sándor Márai, adapted by Christopher Hampton, starring Jeremy Irons and Patrick Malahide Eh Joe by Samuel Beckett, starring Michael Gambon Rock'n' Roll by Tom Stoppard, starring David Calder, Emma Fielding, Dominic West, Rufus Sewell, Nicola Bryant Little Shop of Horrors by Alan Menken, starring Sheridan Smith, Paul Keating and Alistair McGowan In Celebration by David Storey, starring Orlando Bloom, Tim Healy and Lynda Baron Rent Remixed, by Jonathan Larson, starring Denise Van Outen The Magic Flute That Face by Polly Stenham, starring Lindsay Duncan, Hannah Murray and Matt Smith Under the Blue Sky by David Eldridge, starring Catherine Tate, Francesca Annis and Dominic Rowan No Man's Land by Harold Pinter, starring Michael Gambon, David Bradley, David Walliams and Nick Dunning A View From the Bridge by Arthur Miller, starring Ken Stott Arcadia by Tom Stoppard starring Samantha Bond, Nancy Carroll, Jessie Cave, Trevor Cooper, Sam Cox, Lucy Griffiths, Tom Hodgkins, Hugh Mitchell, Neil Pearson, George Potts, Dan Stevens and Ed Stoppard Speaking in Tongues by Andrew Bovell starring John Simm Bedroom Farce by Alan Ayckbourn Ghost Stories by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman starring Andy Nyman, David Cardy, Ryan Gage and Nicholas Burns Journey's End by R. C.
Sherriff Backbeat, co-written by Iain Softley and Stephen Jeffreys, musical direction by Paul Stacey, directed by David Leveaux. All New People by Zach Braff, directed by Peter DuBois, starring Zach Braff, Eve Myles, Paul Hilton and Susannah Fielding. Posh Jumpy by April de Angelis, starring Tamsin Greig Constellations by Nick Payne, starring Sally Hawkins and Rafe Spall The Judas Kiss by David Hare, starring Rupert Everett and Freddie Fox Passion Play by Peter Nichols, starring Zoë Wanamaker A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen, starring Hattie Morahan Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense by PG Wodehouse Neville's Island by Tim Firth, starring Adrian Edmondson, Miles Jupp, Neil Morrissey and Robert Webb The Nether by Jennifer Haley Hay Fever (11 May 2
Pantomime is a type of musical comedy stage production designed for family entertainment. It was developed in England and is performed throughout the United Kingdom, Ireland and in other English-speaking countries during the Christmas and New Year season. Modern pantomime includes songs, slapstick comedy and dancing, it employs gender-crossing actors and combines topical humour with a story more or less based on a well-known fairy tale, fable or folk tale. It is a participatory form of theatre, in which the audience is expected to sing along with certain parts of the music and shout out phrases to the performers. Pantomime has a long theatrical history in Western culture dating back to classical theatre, it developed from the 16th century commedia dell'arte tradition of Italy and other European and British stage traditions, such as 17th-century masques and music hall. An important part of the pantomime, until the late 19th century, was the harlequinade. Outside Britain, the word "pantomime" is understood to mean miming, rather than the theatrical form discussed here.
The word pantomime was adopted from the Latin word pantomimus, which in turn derives from the Greek word παντόμιμος, consisting of παντο- meaning "all", μῖμος, meaning a dancer who acted all the roles or all the story. The Roman pantomime drew upon the Greek tragedy and other Greek genres from its inception, although the art was instituted in Rome and little is known of it in pre-Roman Greece; the English word came to be applied to the performance itself. According to a lost oration by Aelius Aristides, the pantomime was known for its erotic content and the effeminacy of its dancing. Roman pantomime was a production based upon myth or legend, for a solo male dancer—clad in a long silk tunic and a short mantle, used as a "prop"—accompanied by a sung libretto rendered by a singer or chorus. Music was supplied by flute and the pulse of an iron-shod shoe called a scabellum. Performances might be in a private household, with minimal personnel, or else lavish theatrical productions involving a large orchestra and chorus and sometimes an ancillary actor.
The dancer danced all the roles, relying on masks, stock poses and gestures and a hand-language so complex and expressive that the pantomime's hands were compared to an eloquent mouth. Pantomime differed from mime by its more artistic nature and relative lack of farce and coarse humour, though these were not absent from some productions. Roman pantomime was immensely popular from the end of the first century BC until the end of the sixth century AD, a form of entertainment that spread throughout the empire where, because of its wordless nature, it did more than any other art to foster knowledge of the myths and Roman legends that formed its subject-matter – tales such as those of the love of Venus and Mars and of Dido and Aeneas – while in Italy its chief exponents were celebrities the protegés of influential citizens, whose followers wore badges proclaiming their allegiance and engaged in street-fights with rival groups, while its accompanying songs became known. Yet, because of the limits imposed upon Roman citizens' dance, the populism of its song-texts and other factors, the art was as much despised as adored, its practitioners were slaves or freedmen.
Because of the low status and the disappearance of its libretti, the Roman pantomime received little modern scholarly attention until the late 20th century, despite its great influence upon Roman culture as perceived in Roman art, in statues of famous dancers, graffiti and literature. After the renaissance of classical culture, Roman pantomime was a decisive influence upon modern European concert dance, helping to transform ballet from a mere entertainment, a display of technical virtuosity, into the dramatic ballet d'action, it became an antecedent which, through writers and ballet-masters of the 17th and 18th centuries such as Claude-François Ménestrier, John Weaver, Jean-Georges Noverre and Gasparo Angiolini, earned it respectability and attested to the capability of dance to render complex stories and express human emotion. In the Middle Ages, the Mummers Play was a traditional English folk play, based loosely on the Saint George and the Dragon legend performed during Christmas gatherings, which contained the origin of many of the archetypal elements of the pantomime, such as stage fights, coarse humour and fantastic creatures, gender role reversal, good defeating evil.
Precursors of pantomime included the masque, which grew in pomp and spectacle from the 15th to the 17th centuries. The development of English pantomime was strongly influenced by the continental commedia dell'arte, a form of popular theatre that arose in Italy in the Early Modern Period; this was a "comedy of professional artists" travelling from province to province in Italy and France, who improvised and told comic stories that held lessons for the crowd, changing the main character depending on where they were performing. Each "scenario" used some of the same stock characters; these included the innamorati. Italian masque performances in the 17th century sometimes included the Harlequin character. In the 17th century, adaptations of the commedia characters became familiar in English entertainments. From these, the standard E
Love from a Stranger (1937 film)
Love from a Stranger is a 1937 British drama film directed by Rowland V. Lee and starring Ann Harding, Basil Rathbone and Binnie Hale, it is based on the 1936 play of the same name by Frank Vosper. In turn, the play was based on the 1924 short story Philomel Cottage, written by Agatha Christie; the film was produced by the independent Trafalgar Films at Denham Studios near London. It is known by the alternative title A Night of Terror in the United States. Ann Harding as Carol Howard Basil Rathbone as Gerald Lovell Binnie Hale as Kate Meadows Bruce Seton as Ronald Bruce Jean Cadell as Aunt Lou Bryan Powley as Doctor Gribble Joan Hickson as Emmy Donald Calthrop as Hobson Eugene Leahy as Mr. Tuttle The film was reviewed by C. A. Lejeune in The Observer of 10 January 1937 when she said that it "was a bit slow in getting started, but once the extra characters of the early scenes are dropped and the film gets the two leading players alone in their Kentish farmhouse, it becomes a hair-raiser of the first order."
He concluded that, "Ann Harding and Basil Rathbone…overplay a little in the final conflict, but I'm not at all sure that it isn't what is wanted for the picture. The whole treatment of the climax is strained and hysterical. There is one shot, when the wife throws open the last door to escape and finds her husband standing dead-still on the threshold, that hasn't been equalled for horror since Cagney's body fell through the doorway in Public Enemy. A woman in front of me let out a scream like a steamship siren at this point in the first performance; that scream was the natural voice of criticism testifying to the film's success."The Scotsman of 22 June 1937 started off its review by saying, "Suspense is cleverly created and sustained in this film version of the late Frank Vosper's play." The reviewer continued, "The suspicion is cunningly built up. Much of the effect is due to the acting. Ann Harding brings a strong, yet restrained emotion to her part when it trembles of the verge of melodramatic insanity, Basil Rathbone terrifyingly combines sensitiveness and insanity in a polished and persuasive performance."
Low, Rachael. Filmmaking in 1930s Britain. George Allen & Unwin, 1985. Wood, Linda. British Films, 1927–1939. British Film Institute, 1986. Love from a Stranger on IMDb Love From a Stranger at AllMovie
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane known as Drury Lane, is a West End theatre and Grade I listed building in Covent Garden, England. The building backs onto Drury Lane; the building is the most recent in a line of four theatres which were built at the same location, the earliest of which dated back to 1663, making it the oldest theatre site in London still in use. According to the author Peter Thomson, for its first two centuries, Drury Lane could "reasonably have claimed to be London's leading theatre". For most of that time, it was one of a handful of patent theatres, granted monopoly rights to the production of "legitimate" drama in London; the first theatre on the site was built at the behest of Thomas Killigrew in the early 1660s, when theatres were allowed to reopen during the English Restoration. Known as "Theatre Royal in Bridges Street", the theatre's proprietors hired prominent actors who performed at the theatre on a regular basis, including Nell Gwyn and Charles Hart. In 1672 the theatre caught fire and Killigrew built a larger theatre on the same plot, renamed the "Theatre Royal in Drury Lane".
This building lasted nearly 120 years, under the leaderships of Colley Cibber, David Garrick and Richard Brinsley Sheridan, the last of whom employed Joseph Grimaldi as the theatre's resident Clown. In 1791, under Sheridan's management, the building was demolished to make way for a larger theatre which opened in 1794; this new Drury Lane survived for 15 years before burning down in 1809. The building that stands today opened in 1812, it has been the residency of well known actors including. From the Second World War, the theatre has hosted long runs of musicals, including Oklahoma!, My Fair Lady, 42nd Street and Miss Saigon, the theatre's longest-running show. The theatre is owned by the composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. After the eleven-year-long Puritan Interregnum, which had seen the banning of pastimes regarded as frivolous, such as theatre, the English monarchy was restored to the throne with the return of Charles II in 1660. Soon after, Charles issued Letters Patent to two parties licensing the formation of new acting companies.
One of these went to Thomas Killigrew, whose company became known as the King's Company, who built a new theatre in Drury Lane. The Letters Patent granted the two companies a shared monopoly on the public performance of legitimate drama in London; the new playhouse, architect unknown, opened on 7 May 1663 and was known from the placement of the entrance as the "Theatre Royal in Bridges Street." It went by other names as well, including the "King's Playhouse." The building was a three-tiered wooden structure, 59 feet wide. Set well back from the broader streets, the theatre was accessed by narrow passages between surrounding buildings; the King himself attended the theatre's productions, as did Samuel Pepys, whose private diaries provide much of what we know of London theatre-going in the 1660s. The day after the Theatre Royal opened, Pepys attended a performance of Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher's The Humorous Lieutenant, he has this to say in his diary: The house is made with extraordinary good contrivance, yet hath some faults, as the narrowness of the passages in and out of the Pitt, the distance from the stage to the boxes, which I am confident cannot hear.
Performances began at 3 pm to take advantage of the daylight: the main floor for the audience, the pit, had no roof in order to let in the light. A glazed dome was built over the opening, but according to one of Pepys' diary entries, the dome was not effective at keeping out the elements: he and his wife were forced to leave the theatre to take refuge from a hail storm. Green baize cloth covered the benches in the pit and served to decorate the boxes, additionally ornamented with gold-tooled leather, the stage itself; the backless green benches in the pit were in a semicircular arrangement facing the stage, according to a May 1663 letter from one Monsieur de Maonconys: "All benches of the pit, where people of rank sit, are shaped in a semi-circle, each row higher than the next." The three galleries formed a semicircle around the floor seats. The King's Company was forced to commission the technically advanced and expensive Theatre Royal playhouse by the success of the rival Duke's Company, drawing fascinated crowds with their "moveable" or "changeable" scenery and visually gorgeous productions at the former Lisle's Tennis Court at Lincoln's Inn Fields.
Imitating the innovations at Lincoln's Inn Fields, the Theatre Royal featured moveable scenery with wings or shutters that could be smoothly changed between or within acts. When not in use, the shutters rested out of sight behind the sides of the proscenium arch, which served as a visual frame for the on-stage happenings; the picture-frame-like separation between audience and performance was a new phenomenon in English theatre, though it had been found on the Continent earlier. Theatre design in London remain