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

The Aldwych Theatre during the run of 'Tina' in April 2018 - Photo M.L.

Above - The Aldwych Theatre during the run of 'Tina' in April 2018 - Photo M.L.

See London's West End TheatresSee Theatreland MapsSee this Theatre on Google StreetviewThe 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.

A report on the opening production of 'Blue Bell' at the newlyy opened Aldwych Theatre - From The Times Newspaper, 25th December 1905.

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. A report on the opening production from the Times Newspaper can be seen left, and images of the production from the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News can be seen right.

The Opening of the Aldwych Theatre - Rivival of 'Bluebell in Fairyland'.

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 Aldwych 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 Gillian Lynne Theatre, formerly the New London Theatre, which itself replaced the former Mogul Saloon, Middlesex Music Hall, Middlesex Theatre of Varieties, and Winter Garden Theatre.

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

The Theatre was part of a vast new block of buildings 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, see images left and below.

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 Waldorf Hotel shown centre, and to the left the Novello Theatre, formerly the Waldorf Theatre / Strand Theatre, and to the right, the Aldwych Theatre, in November 2017 - Photo M.L.

Above - A photograph from November 2017 showing the Waldorf Hotel centre, and to the left the Novello Theatre, formerly the Waldorf Theatre / Strand Theatre, and to the right, the Aldwych Theatre - Photo M.L.

The Aldwych Theatre when it first opened in 1905 - From The ERA, December 16th 1905.The ERA reported on the Theatre's opening in their 30th of December 1905 edition saying:- 'Mr. Seymour Hicks's new theatre in Aldwych is an important addition to London's playhouses. Designed by Mr. W. G. R. Sprague, it combines those essential qualities in a place of amusement - comfort for the audience and beauty of appearance. Mr. Sprague has not only introduced into his architectural scheme the very latest improvements in theatre construction, but has also made certain departures which are all in the right direction.

Right - The Aldwych Theatre when it first opened in 1905 - From The ERA, December 16th 1905.

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.

An early postcard showing the Aldwych Theatre.The prevailing scheme is crimson, cream, and gold, and the contrast with the rose du Berri 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 "smoker's gallery," above the entrance hall.

Conspicuous in the foyer is a fine bust of Miss Ellen Terries, the work of Mr. Albert Toft; and the embellishments of the entrance hall include a number of well-painted portrait panels; while in the corridor will be found an interesting collection of old theatrical prints.

Left - An early postcard showing the Aldwych Theatre.

The Aldwych is a two-tier house; the stage is 70ft. in width, and underneath it are two separate floors. The dressing-rooms, which are over the stage, are very commodious, as they provide accommodation for 200 persons; and above them is a comfortable supper-room, answering to the famous beefsteak club room at the old Lyceum.

Mr. Seymour Hicks has already started a museum, consisting of theatrical objects of interest, and conspicuous amongst these is an oak chair sold at the recent sale by auction, which formerly belonged to Sir Henry Irving (see image below).

A Room in the Aldwych Theatre when it opened in 1905, set up by Seymour Hicks as a Museum dedicated to Sir Henry Irving - From 'London Town Past and Present' Vol 2 by W. W. Hutchings 1909.

Above - A Room in the Aldwych Theatre when it opened in 1905, set up by Seymour Hicks as a Museum dedicated to Sir Henry Irving - From 'London Town Past and Present' Vol 2 by W. W. Hutchings 1909.

...The new theatre, both as regards its exterior and interior appearance, as well as the completeness of the arrangements for the comfort of its patrons, is well worthy of the commanding position which it occupies; and the clever and distinguished architect, Mr. Sprague, deserves every credit for his work.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the ERA, December 30th 1905.

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

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

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.

The Aldwych Theatre is currently owned and run by Nederlander Theatres whose own website for the Theatre can be found here.

  • Roi Cooper Megrue and Walter Hackett's 'It Pays to Advertise' - 1925.
  • Ben Traver's 'A Cuckoo in the Nest' - 1925.
  • Ben Traver's 'Roockery Nook' - 1927.
  • Ben Traver's 'Turkey Time' - 1931.
  • Ben Traver's 'Dirty Work' - 1932.

Above - A selection of Programme Covers for the Aldwych Theatre in the 1920s and 30s.

Below are some images relating to the Aldwych Theatre since it was built in 1905

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 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 - From 'Who's Who in the Theatre' published in 1930 - Courtesy Martin Clark. Click to see more Seating Plans from this publication.

Above - A Seating Plan for the Aldwych Theatre - From 'Who's Who in the Theatre' published in 1930 - Courtesy Martin Clark. Click to see more Seating Plans from this publication.

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 whilst in production for the Carole King musical 'Beautiful' in February 2015 - Photo M.L.

Above - The Aldwych Theatre whilst in production for the Carole King musical 'Beautiful' in February 2015 - Photo M.L.

The Aldwych Theatre is currently owned and run by Nederlander Theatres whose own website for the Theatre can be found here.

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