Joseph Wyatt (theatre owner)
Joseph Wyatt was a theatre owner and manager, in the early years of theatre in Sydney, Australia. Wyatt became prosperous as a haberdasher in Pitt Street, in 1833 he sold the business and invested in property. From April 1835 he was one of six lessees of the Theatre Royal in George Street, the first commercial theatre in Sydney. From May 1836 he was sole lessee. In 1836 he planned another larger theatre in the Royal Victoria Theatre; the foundation stone was laid on 7 September of that year, the new theatre in Pitt Street, seating 1,900, opened on 26 March 1838. In the same year Wyatt bought the Theatre Royal from the widow of its owner Barnett Levey, who had died the previous year; that theatre burned down in 1840. The population of Sydney was small in relation to the size of the Royal Victoria Theatre, so that a proper repertoire could not be built up: there were frequent changes of programme, leading to poorly rehearsed performances. In March 1841 Wyatt sailed for England to recruit actors, returning in January 1843.
The new actors engaged faced opposition from the Sydney actors, the Sydney Morning Herald commented on 25 January 1843: "Of the twelve brought out by him from England there is not one equal in ability to the leading members, male or female, of the old company". Wyatt sacked some of his actors. Wyatt sold the Royal Victoria Theatre in 1854, he built a new theatre in Sydney, the Prince of Wales Theatre, on Castlereagh Street, at a cost of about £30,000. It had a dress circle, upper boxes and gallery, was said to seat about 3,000, it opened on 12 March 1855. "It was soon apparent," wrote an obituarist, "that two theatres would not pay in Sydney... he was at length compelled to take the benefit of the Insolvent Act." He sold the theatre at a heavy loss in 1858. He died on 20 July 1860, was buried at Camperdown Cemetery. An obituarist wrote, "in his dealings with the public and the professionals during the twenty-five years he was connected with the theatres, managed to secure the respect of both"
Majestic Theatre (San Antonio)
The Majestic Theatre is San Antonio's oldest and largest atmospheric theatre. The theatre seats 2,264 people and was designed by architect John Eberson, for Karl Hoblitzelle's Interstate Theatres in 1929. In 1975, the theatre was listed on the National Register of Historical Places and was designated a Texas Historic Landmark in 1991 and a National Historic Landmark April 19, 1993; the theatre was home to the San Antonio Symphony from 1989 to 2014. For many years, it remained the largest theatre in Texas and the second largest movie theatre in the United States, it was the first theatre in the state to be air-conditioned. The land on which the office building-theatre complex now stands was leased to Karl Hoblitzelle from J. M. Nix, who had purchased it in 1920 from the Enterprise Company of Dallas; the land came with the curious deed restriction that, until April 5, 1928, "'neither aforesaid land nor any building or improvement or any part thereon shall be used or occupied for theatrical, motion picture, or amusement purposes at any time...'"Sufficiently exceeding the listed time restriction, the theatre's opening on June 14, 1929, in many ways symbolized a progressiveness with which San Antonio wished to identify.
The city deemed the month of the opening "Prosperity Month," celebrating the recent era of development Texas was experiencing. In size, the Greater Majestic was second in the nation only to Atlanta, Georgia's Fox Theatre, it was the first theatre in Texas to be air-conditioned, something that alone was a major attraction in the 1920s South. Advertisements heralding "'an acre of cool, comfortable seats'" were "further emphasized by the snow which topped the letters of the theatre's name," prompting society women to wear fur coats to the June opening; the 4,000-seat theatre was filled to capacity for opening day entertainment, which consisted of the musical film, Follies of 1929 and live performances by Mexican Troubador Don Galvan, "The Banjo Boy," the "Seven Nelsons" acrobatic troupe, Eddie Sauer and his "Syncopaters," and the Father of Country Music, Jimmie Rodgers, who himself received 18 curtain calls. Each week, the program offered included a new lineup of star performers. In 1930, the Great Depression caused the Majestic to close for several weeks, until it was able to reopen "because Americans were turning to movies for escape."
The Majestic provided that escape with a schedule of films and live entertainment through the 1940s and 50s. Theatre features included a huge cast-iron canopy covering the sidewalk, a vertical sign 76-feet tall topped with "a strutting peacock... walking as a huge ball rotated under his feet," and a cave-like single-story lobby that included copper lanterns, ceiling murals, an aquarium filled with tropical fish. Inside the theatre's auditorium were stuffed birds perched on balconies or frozen mid-flight via ceiling wire, replicas of well-known Greek and Renaissance sculptures, specially treated cypress trees brought from Spain and placed on upper-level niches; the Baroque tendency to decorate with mask-like faces is exemplified by carvings alongside the stage and under the mezzanine balcony, in direct translation of atmospheric theater design, the Majestic's blue ceiling "cloud scape" disguises the interior dome as an evening sky in conjunction with a cloud projector and small bulbs simulating stars.
The bulbs are positioned according to consultations with experts at the National Geographic Society, who instructed the designer as to the positioning of the real stars on the night of the theater's opening. In January 2017, the Majestic replaced the white peacock, which had tarnished gray and become "decrepit" over the years with a new one purchased for $3,600 from Joel Donahue, a California taxidermist. There are twenty-seven other stuffed birds in the theatre, including a second, less ostentatious peacock on the opposite side of the new addition. At the Majestic grand opening in 1929, the facility was billed as having "one of the largest collections of stuffed birds in Texas," including a large white peacock. In 2017, the theatre hosted the San Antonio portions of Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief; the world premiere of West Point of the Air was held at the Majestic on March 22, 1935. The world premiere of The Texans was held at the Majestic on July 16, 1938; the world premiere of The Lusty Men was held at the Majestic in 1952 with stars Robert Mitchum, Arthur Kennedy and Arthur Hunnicutt attending.
Selena starring Jennifer Lopez was filmed inside the theatre. The world premiere of "To Hell and Back" was held at the Majestic on August 17, 1955. In the movie Texan Audie Murphy plays himself as World War II's most decorated combat soldier; the premiere was held on the tenth anniversary of Murphy's army discharge at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. The world premiere of The Alamo was held at the Majestic on March 27, 2004 with Dennis Quaid, Billy Bob Thornton, Jason Patric, Patrick Wilson, Emilio Echevarria, Jordi Molla, native Texan writer/director John Lee Hancock and Academy Award-winning producer Mark Johnson in attendance. Official website
Lyceum Theatre, London
The Lyceum Theatre is a 2,100-seat West End theatre located in the City of Westminster, on Wellington Street, just off the Strand. The origins of the theatre date to 1765. Managed by Samuel Arnold, from 1794 to 1809 the building hosted a variety of entertainments including a circus produced by Philip Astley, a chapel, the first London exhibition of waxworks displayed by Madame Tussaud. From 1816 to 1830, it served as The English Opera House. After a fire, the house was reopened on 14 July 1834 to a design by Samuel Beazley; the building was unique in. It was built by the partnership of Grissell; the theatre played opera, adaptations of Charles Dickens novels and James Planché's "fairy extravaganzas", among other works. From 1871 to 1902, Henry Irving appeared at the theatre in Shakespeare starring opposite Ellen Terry. In 1904 the theatre was completely rebuilt and richly ornamented in Rococo style by Bertie Crewe, but it retained Beazley's façade and grand portico, it played melodrama over the ensuing decades.
The building closed in 1939 and was set to be demolished, but it was saved and converted into a Mecca Ballroom in 1951, styled the Lyceum Ballroom, where many well-known bands played. The Lyceum was restored to theatrical use in 1996 by Holohan Architects. Since 1999, the theatre has hosted The Lion King. In 1765, a building was erected on an adjacent site by the architect James Payne for the exhibitions of The Society of Artists, which disbanded three years when the Royal Academy of Arts succeeded it; the building was leased out for dances and other entertainments, including musical entertainments by Charles Dibdin. Famed actor David Garrick performed there. In 1794, the composer Samuel Arnold Sr rebuilt the interior of the building, making it into a proper theatre, but through the opposition of the existing patent theatres, he was not granted a patent. Therefore, he leased it to other entertainments again, including Philip Astley, who brought his circus there when his amphitheatre was burned down at Westminster.
It was used as a chapel, a concert room, for the first London exhibition of waxworks displayed by Madame Tussauds in 1802. The theatre became a licensed house in 1809, until 1812 it was used for dramatic performances by the Drury Lane Company after the burning of their own theatre, until the erection of the new edifice, it staged one of the earliest tableaux vivants, as part of William Dimond's The Peasant Boy in 1811. In 1816, Samuel Arnold rebuilt the house to a design by Beazley and opened it as The English Opera House, but it was destroyed by fire in 1830; the house was famous for hosting the London première of Mozart's opera Così fan tutte and as the first theatre in Britain to have its stage lit by gas. During this period, the "Sublime Society of Beef Steaks,", founded in 1735 by theatre manager Henry Rich, had its home at the theatre for over 50 years until 1867; the members, who never exceeded twenty-four in number, met every Saturday night to eat beefsteaks and drink port wine. In 1834, the present house opened to the west, with a frontage on Wellington Street, under the name Theatre Royal Lyceum and English Opera House.
The theatre was again designed by Beazley and cost £40,000. The new house championed English opera rather than the Italian operas that had played earlier in the century. Composer John Barnett produced a number of works in the first few years of the theatre, including The Mountain Sylph, credited as the first modern English opera, it was followed by Fair Rosamund in 1837 and Farinelli in 1839, Blanche of Jersey here in 1840. In 1841–43, composer Michael William Balfe managed the theatre and produced National Opera here, but the venture was unsuccessful. From 1844 to 1847 the theatre was managed by husband and wife team Robert Keeley and Mary Anne Keeley, during which period the house became associated with adaptations of Charles Dickens's novels and Christmas books. For instance, an adaptation of Dickens' Martin Chuzzlewit ran for over 100 performances from 1844–45 here, a long run for the time; the Lyceum was managed by Madame Lucia Elizabeth Vestris and Charles James Mathews from 1847–55, who produced James Planché's " extravaganzas" featuring spectacular stage effects.
Their first big success was Cox. Tom Taylor's adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities, with Dickens himself as consultant, played in 1860, shortly after end of its serialisation and volume publication. Charles Fechter, who managed the theatre from 1863–67 favored spectacular productions. In 1866, Dion Boucicault's The Long Strike was produced here. Ethel Lavenu, the mother and grandmother of actors Tyrone Power, Sr. and Tyrone Power performed in a number pieces at the theatre in the 1860s. W. S. Gilbert produced three plays here. In 1863, his first professional play, Uncle Baby, premièred. In 1867, he presented his Christmas pantomime, called Harlequin Cock Robin and Jenny Wren, in 1884, he produced the drama Comedy and Tragedy. In 1889, the world's finest Italian dramatic tenor, Francesco Tamagno, appeared at the Lyceum, singing the leading role in the first London production of Giuseppe Verdi's opera Otello. Beginning in 1871, under manager Hezekiah Linthicum Bateman and his wife, Henry Irving appeared at the theatre in, among other things, many Shakespeare works.
Irving began with the French melodrama The Bells, an instant hit in which he played the ghost-haunted burgomaster. The piece ran to sell-out crowds for 150 nights, which was
Capitol Theatre, Sydney
The Capitol Theatre is a heritage-listed theatre located at 3-15 Campbell Street, Haymarket, in the Sydney central business district, in the City of Sydney local government area of New South Wales, Australia. It was designed by Henry White and John Eberson and built from 1893 to 1928; the property was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 2 April 1999. The former circus venue, atmospheric theatre and market venue in owned by Capitol Theatre Management Pty Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Foundation Theatres Pty Limited. Foundation Theatres owns the Sydney Capitol Theatre; the site of the Capitol Theatre has provided entertainment to the people of Sydney since the early 19th century when this piece of land was used by early settlers as a market place for produce and hay, giving this area its name "Haymarket". During the 1880s facilities for the bulk sale of fruit and vegetables came under increasing pressure. In March 1891, Sydney Council appointed a committee to recommend a new site for a major covered market.
They suggested the adjacent space of the Haymarket and this proposal was adopted in the following July. The principal contractor for the building was Alexander Allen of Summer Hill and his tender of £24,902 was approved in November 1891; the markets opened in July 1893. The New Belmore Markets as it was called was designed by George McRae; the facade presented thirty-six arched bays to the streets: eleven to Campbell and Hay and seven to Parker and Pitt streets. The New Belmore Markets was not an economic success and led Council to seek alternative uses for the building. In 1912 the New Belmore Market was leased for ten weeks to Wirth Bros for the purpose of a circus and hippodrome. Council decided to recycle the fabric of the New Belmore Market to create a theatrical circus venue. In September 1912, the Council accepted Wirth's tender for a twenty-one year lease of the proposed Hippodrome; the building functioned as a fruit and vegetable market called "Belmore Markets". The markets were built in 1891 by McRae, City Architect, the structural engineer Norman Selfe, but were commercially unsuccessful because they were located too far from Darling Harbour.
The markets relocated in 1912, after which Wirth Bros took over the lease and opened their new Wirth Bros Hippodrome in 1916. Attractions included elaborate circus acts with animals such as elephants and seals and vaudeville shows. Although performing with some success for a decade, the Hippodrome failed financially; the old site was divided up between the Manning Building, facing Pitt Street, the western half, rebuilt as a theatre in 1928. The conversion was under the control of Robert Hargreave Broderick; the facade was dismantled and re-erected above a new ground storey, in turn mounted on the old footings. The redevelopment was split into two major contracts: the eastern half now known as the Manning Building was awarded to J. M. & A. Pringle in May 1913 and the Hippodrome theatre to the west to William Maston and Thomas Yates in December the same year; the Hippodrome opened in April 1916. Despite the Hippodrome's versatility, it was not a financial success and by 1926 Wirth's had decided to seek the remodelling of the buildings as a picture palace.
Plans for the work were completed by Henry White in February 1927 for "Capitol Theatre Sydney Limited" and the same month Wirths wrote to the Sydney City Council requesting a "remodelling" of the building for its proposed new function. Henry White was a experienced theatre designer and in 1927 visited America with Stuart Doyle, the managing director of Union Theatres Ltd. to review the latest developments in theatre design. Whilst in the United State, architect John Eberson was engaged to provide White with designs for the conversion of the Hippodrome; the plans for an atmospheric auditorium were much like Eberson's Riviera at Omaha, Nebraska. The conversion involved remodelling the interior and raising the roof trusses to make room for the atmospheric ceiling and extended slope of the new gallery. In May 1927, the Sydney City Council approved Wirth's proposed alterations; the Capitol opened on 7 April 1928. In 1929 the theatre was fitted to screen talkies but by 1931-32 Greater Union was in financial difficulties with the Depression.
In November 1932 the Capitol closed its doors. It re-opened in April 1933 screening second-rate movies. Maintenance economies put machinery and lighting out of action and in 1945 all "unwanted" decoration including banners and artificial foliage was stripped from the interiors. In 1972 the theatre lease was removed from Greater Union Theatres and awarded to Harry M. Miller for the production of Jesus Christ Superstar. At that time the atmospheric and ornamental fabric was removed. During the 1990s the lease was transferred to Ipoh Garden Developments Pty Ltd. At this time the Capitol Theatre underwent a detailed restoration and reconstruction to recover the original 1928 experience, it has now been returned to its original grandeur. A brick building with stone cornices and other dressings, ornamental terracotta capitals, rosettes etc. with tiles panels and into, built an atmospheric type plaster and brick picture palace. The current theatre was designed by R. H. Broderick, it was intended as a hippodrome for arena theatre and featured stone cornices, terra-cotta capitals and tiled panels.
The architect Henry White turned the interior into a movie palace in 1927, creating the effect of an internal Italian garden or piazza. It featured an internal imitation courtyard, the only one surviving in Sydney; the building is listed on the Register of the National Estate. The Capitol Theatre was an "atmospheric" picture palace for many years, but went through a dark p
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
Australia the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area; the neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea and East Timor to the north. The population of 25 million is urbanised and concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, its largest city is Sydney; the country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. Australia was inhabited by indigenous Australians for about 60,000 years before the first British settlement in the late 18th century, it is documented. After the European exploration of the continent by Dutch explorers in 1606, who named it New Holland, Australia's eastern half was claimed by Great Britain in 1770 and settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales from 26 January 1788, a date which became Australia's national day; the population grew in subsequent decades, by the 1850s most of the continent had been explored and an additional five self-governing crown colonies established.
On 1 January 1901, the six colonies federated. Australia has since maintained a stable liberal democratic political system that functions as a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy, comprising six states and ten territories. Being the oldest and driest inhabited continent, with the least fertile soils, Australia has a landmass of 7,617,930 square kilometres. A megadiverse country, its size gives it a wide variety of landscapes, with deserts in the centre, tropical rainforests in the north-east and mountain ranges in the south-east. A gold rush began in Australia in the early 1850s, its population density, 2.8 inhabitants per square kilometre, remains among the lowest in the world. Australia generates its income from various sources including mining-related exports, telecommunications and manufacturing. Indigenous Australian rock art is the oldest and richest in the world, dating as far back as 60,000 years and spread across hundreds of thousands of sites. Australia is a developed country, with the world's 14th-largest economy.
It has a high-income economy, with the world's tenth-highest per capita income. It is a regional power, has the world's 13th-highest military expenditure. Australia has the world's ninth-largest immigrant population, with immigrants accounting for 26% of the population. Having the third-highest human development index and the eighth-highest ranked democracy globally, the country ranks in quality of life, education, economic freedom, civil liberties and political rights, with all its major cities faring well in global comparative livability surveys. Australia is a member of the United Nations, G20, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, World Trade Organization, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, Pacific Islands Forum and the ASEAN Plus Six mechanism; the name Australia is derived from the Latin Terra Australis, a name used for a hypothetical continent in the Southern Hemisphere since ancient times. When Europeans first began visiting and mapping Australia in the 17th century, the name Terra Australis was applied to the new territories.
Until the early 19th century, Australia was best known as "New Holland", a name first applied by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1644 and subsequently anglicised. Terra Australis still saw occasional usage, such as in scientific texts; the name Australia was popularised by the explorer Matthew Flinders, who said it was "more agreeable to the ear, an assimilation to the names of the other great portions of the earth". The first time that Australia appears to have been used was in April 1817, when Governor Lachlan Macquarie acknowledged the receipt of Flinders' charts of Australia from Lord Bathurst. In December 1817, Macquarie recommended to the Colonial Office. In 1824, the Admiralty agreed that the continent should be known by that name; the first official published use of the new name came with the publication in 1830 of The Australia Directory by the Hydrographic Office. Colloquial names for Australia include "Oz" and "the Land Down Under". Other epithets include "the Great Southern Land", "the Lucky Country", "the Sunburnt Country", "the Wide Brown Land".
The latter two both derive from Dorothea Mackellar's 1908 poem "My Country". Human habitation of the Australian continent is estimated to have begun around 65,000 to 70,000 years ago, with the migration of people by land bridges and short sea-crossings from what is now Southeast Asia; these first inhabitants were the ancestors of modern Indigenous Australians. Aboriginal Australian culture is one of the oldest continual civilisations on earth. At the time of first European contact, most Indigenous Australians were hunter-gatherers with complex economies and societies. Recent archaeological finds suggest. Indigenous Australians have an oral culture with spiritual values based on reverence for the land and a belief in the Dreamtime; the Torres Strait Islanders, ethnically Melanesian, obtained their livelihood from seasonal horticulture and the resources of their reefs and seas. The northern coasts and waters of Australia were visited s
The Playhouse Theatre is a West End theatre in the City of Westminster, located in Northumberland Avenue, near Trafalgar Square. The Theatre was built by F. H. Fowler and Hill with a seating capacity of 1,200, it still retains its original substage machinery. Its current seating capacity is 786. Built by Sefton Henry Parry as the Royal Avenue Theatre, it opened on 11 March 1882 with 1200 seats; the first production at the theatre was Jacques Offenbach's Madame Favart. In its early seasons, the theatre hosted comic operas and farces for several years. For much of this time, the low comedian Arthur Roberts, a popular star of the music halls, starred at the theatre. By the 1890s, the theatre was presenting drama, in 1894 Annie Horniman, the tea heiress, anonymously sponsored the actress Florence Farr in a season of plays at the theatre. Farr's first production was unsuccessful, so she prevailed upon her friend, George Bernard Shaw, to hurry and make his West End début at the theatre with Arms and the Man in 1894.
It was successful enough to allow him to discontinue music criticism to focus full-time on play writing. The actress Gladys Cooper managed the theatre for some years; the theatre was rebuilt in 1905 to the designs of Billerey. During the work, part of the roof of the adjacent Charing Cross railway station collapsed; the roof and girders fell across the train lines but part of the station's western wall fell and crashed through the roof and wall of the theatre. This resulted in the deaths of three people in the station, three workmen on the theatre site and injuries to many more; the theatre was repaired and re-opened as The Playhouse on 28 January 1907 with a one-act play called The Drums of Oudh and a play called Toddles, by Tristan Bernard and Andre Godferneaux. Shaw wrote a sketch entitled The Interlude at the Playhouse for the occasion; the new theatre had a smaller seating capacity of 679. W. Somerset Maugham's Home and Beauty premièred at the Playhouse on 30 August 1919, running for 235 performances, Henry Daniell appeared here in February 1926 as the Prince of Karaslavia in Mr. Abdulla.
Nigel Bruce appeared in February 1927 as Robert Crosbie in Somerset Maugham's The Letter, again in May 1930 as Robert Brennan in Dishonoured Lady. Alec Guinness made his stage début here in Ward Dorane's play Libel! on 2 April 1934. Daniell returned in November that year as Paul Miller in Hurricane. In 1951 it was taken over by the BBC as a recording studio for live performances; the Goon Show and the radio versions of Hancock's Half Hour and Steptoe and Son were recorded here, although at least the first two shows were recorded at other venues during their runs. The stage hosted live performances by KISS, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. On 3 April 1967, a live Pink Floyd concert was broadcast from the theatre; when the BBC left around 1976, the theatre was in danger of demolition. The theatre was restored to its 1907 design by impresario Robin Gonshaw, opening again in October 1987 with the musical Girlfriends. A commercial building, Aria House, was erected above the theatre.
In 1988, novelist and politician Jeffrey Archer bought the Playhouse for just over £1 million. The following year, the theatre was offered commercial sponsorship by a financial services' company, for a while it was known as the MI Group Playhouse. In 1991, the Playhouse became home to the Peter Hall Company, a number of critically and commercially successful plays were performed there, including Tennessee Williams' The Rose Tattoo, starring Julie Walters and Moliere's Tartuffe, starring Paul Eddington and Felicity Kendal. Around this time the basement bar area of the theatre was converted into a private restaurant, but the enterprise was unsuccessful and the space was converted back into a bar/cafe. In 1992, Archer sold the Playhouse to impresario Ray Cooney for just over £ 2 million; that year Cooney staged the West End premiere of his latest farce It Runs in the Family at the Playhouse. This was followed by Jane Eyre, adapted by starring Tim Pigott-Smith. In 1996, Cooney sold the Playhouse to American investment banker Patrick Sulaiman Cole, whose first production was a critically acclaimed revival of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House in 1996, directed by Anthony Page and starring Janet McTeer.
That year, the theatre was closed for complete refurbishment under the direction of English Heritage, with the auditorium luxuriously decorated, with grandiose murals, golden pillars, carved balustrades, shining gold decoration. It reopened in 1997 with Sulaiman Cole's production and the West End première of Anton Chekhov's The Wood Demon; this was followed by Sulaiman Cole's production of a first West End Snoo Wilson premiere, "HRH", directed by Simon Callow, about the British Royal Family's Duke and Duchess of Windsor, which opened the day after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. The play was harshly reviewed as anti-Royal; the theatre returned to life as a commercial receiving house with several seasons of Almeida Theatre and Cheek by Jowl productions, including the popular but critically panned premiere of David Hare's The Judas Kiss. Successes at the Playhouse since the late 1990s have included Naked. Priestley's An Inspector Calls and Journey's End, directed by David Grindley. American theatrical producers Ted and Norman Tulchin's Maidstone Productions purchased the theatre at the end of 2002, with the venue managed by the Ambassador Theatre Group.
The Playhouse hosted Richard Eyre's 2003 Olivier Award-winning production of Vincent in Brixto