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The Aldwych Theatre, Aldwych, London, W.C.2

The Aldwych Theatre whilst in production for the musical 'Dirty Dancing' in October 2006. - Photo M.L.

Above - The Aldwych Theatre whilst in production for the musical 'Dirty Dancing' in October 2006. The Theatre is currently home to the new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical 'Stephen Ward'.

 

 

See a Seating Plan for this Theatre with non commercial and independent opinions on the best seats to book - From Seatplan.co.ukSee London's West End TheatresSee Theatreland MapsThe Aldwych Theatre was designed by the well known Theatre Architect W. G. R. Sprague and constructed by Walter Wallis of Balham for Seymour Hicks in 1905. On its opening the Theatre had a stage of 31' 10" wide by 30' high and 37' deep, and an auditorium decorated in the Georgian Style with a capacity of 1,100.

The Theatre opened on Saturday the 23rd of December 1905 with a production of 'Blue Bell' which was a new rendition of 'Bluebell in Fairyland,' by Seymor Hicks and Walter Slaughter, first produced at the Vaudeville Theatre in 1901. The cast of the opening production at the Aldwych Theatre included Ellaline Terriss, Seymore Hicks, Barbara Deane, Topsy Sinden, Maudi Darrell, and Sydney Fairbrother. The audience at the opening of the Theatre were said to have been 'very appreciative'. Profits from the opening night were donated to the Queen's Fund for the unemployed.

The Aldwych Theatre, Waldorf Hotel, and the Waldorf Theatre in 1912 - From a period postcard.The Theatre was constructed at the bottom corner of Drury Lane which also houses the fourth and present Theatre Royal Drury Lane which has been open since 1812, and the New London Theatre, formerly the Mogul Saloon / Middlesex Music Hall / Middlesex Theatre of Varieties and the Winter Garden Theatre.

The Aldwych Theatre was part of a vast new building consisting of the Aldwych Theatre itself, the Waldorf Hotel in the center, and at the far end, the Waldorf Theatre, now the Novello Theatre. Both Theatres were designed by W. G. R. Sprague and given identical exteriors.

Right - The Aldwych Theatre, Waldorf Hotel, and the Waldorf Theatre in 1912 - From a period postcard.

 

The Aldwych Theatre - From a period postcard.The ERA said on the Theatre's opening that:- 'Mr Sprague has not only introduced into his architectural scheme the latest improvements in theatre construction, but has also made certain departures which are all in the right direction. The decorations are in the Georgian style and the general appearance of the interior of the building is pleasing in the extreme. Handsome and ornate it certainly is, but the words that correctly describe the impression conveyed by a first glance round, are cosy and comfortable. The prevailing scheme in crimson, cream and gold and the contrast with Rose du Barri draperies and upholstery is striking and artistically effective. One of the innovations that will be greatly appreciated by the male members of the audience is a commodious 'smokers' gallery' above the entrance hall.' - The ERA, 1905.

Left - The Aldwych Theatre - From a period postcard.

Programme for 'Three Sisters' at the Aldwych Theatre which opened on Thursday 3rd May 1951.The Theatre was built as part of the Aldwych Reconstruction which began at the turn of the Twentieth Century.

Four theatres were demolished when London's Aldwych, named after the Old Wych Street, was constructed. This vast operation began in the last years of the nineteenth century and was not finally completed until after the First World War. The Olympic Theatre in Wych Street and the Opera Comique in the Strand were closed in 1899, the Globe Theatre in Newcastle Street shut its doors in 1902. This was followed by the closure of the Gaiety Theatre in the Strand in June of the same year.

Right - A Programme for 'Three Sisters' at the Aldwych Theatre which opened on Thursday 3rd May 1951.

 

The Aldwych Theatre under construction in 1905.

Above - The Aldwych Theatre under construction in 1905. The photograph also shows the Waldorf Theatre which was mostly complete, and the site of the Waldorf Hotel between the two Theatres which had just started being constructed - From a photograph displayed in the Novello Theatre foyer.

A postcard showing the Aldwych Theatre under construction in 1905.

Above - A postcard showing the Aldwych Theatre under construction in 1905. The photograph also show the newly constructed Waldorf Theatre and the site of the Waldorf Hotel between them being prepared for construction.

The Waldorf Hotel with the Waldorf (Now Strand) Theatre (left) and the Aldwych Theatre (right) c.1906.

Above - The Waldorf Hotel with the Waldorf (now Novello) Theatre (left) and the Aldwych Theatre (right) c.1906. The corner of the Gaiety Theatre may just be seen at the extreme left foreground. Opposite the Waldorf Theatre, on Catherine Street is the 'unique site' which because of an Ancient Lights ruling remained vacant until 1925 when the Duchess Theatre was built on part of it. On the horizon, behind the Aldwych Theatre may be glimpsed some of the roof of Drury Lane Theatre. Bedford Lemere took the photograph from the rear of the site now occupied by India House. To his right would have been the sites of two recently demolished theatres, The Globe (1868 - 1902) and the Opera Comique (1870 - 1899). Text and image from 'Theatrephile' Volume 2 No.6 Spring 1985.

 

The newly built Aldwych in the early 1900s showing the Gaiety Theatre on the right, and on the far left, the Waldorf Theatre, now Novello, the Waldorf Hotel and the Aldwych Theatre.

Above - The newly built Aldwych in the early 1900s showing the Gaiety Theatre on the right, and on the far left, the Waldorf Theatre, now Novello, the Waldorf Hotel and the Aldwych Theatre.

The Aldwych and Waldorf Theatres, and the Waldorf Hotel - From an early postcard.

Above - The Aldwych and Waldorf Theatres, and the Waldorf Hotel - From an early postcard.

The Aldwych Theatre during the run of 'Meet Me by Moonlight' in the 1950s - Courtesy Gerry Atkins

Above - The Aldwych Theatre during the run of 'Meet Me by Moonlight' in the 1950s - Courtesy Gerry Atkins

A Seating Plan for the Aldwych Theatre, probably 1970s

Above - A Seating Plan for the Aldwych Theatre, probably 1970s

 

Programme for "Watch On The Rhine" which opened at the Aldwych Theatre in April 1942 and ran for a year.

Programme for "Watch On The Rhine" which opened at the Aldwych Theatre in April 1942 and ran for a year.

Above - A Programme for "Watch On The Rhine" which opened at the Aldwych Theatre
in April 1942 and ran for a year.

 

The Aldwych Theatre in 2006 - Photo M.L. The picture also shows the rear of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane beyond the scaffolding on the left up Drury Lane itself.

Above - The Aldwych Theatre whilst in production for the musical 'Dirty Dancing' in October 2006 - Photo M.L. The picture also shows the rear of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane beyond the scaffolding on the left up Drury Lane itself.

The Aldwych Theatre is currently owned by the American, James Nederlander whose own website for the Theatre can be found here.


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