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The Ambassadors Theatre, West Street, London

Also Known as - The New Ambassadors Theatre

The Ambassadors Theatre during the run of 'Waiting For Godot' in October 2006 - Photo M.L.

Above - The Ambassadors Theatre during the run of 'Waiting For Godot' in October 2006

 

 

Programme for 'Swinging The Gate' at the Ambassadors Theatre in 1940, which was a sequel to 'The Gate Revue' of 1939. 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 Ambassadors Theatre opened on Thursday the 5th June 1913 with a production of the play 'Panthea' by Monckton Hoffe.

The original plan was to build two Theatres side by side at roughly the same time but the outbreak of the first world war caused the building of the second Theatre, St. Martin's, to be delayed until 1916. Because the Ambassadors Theatre was constructed before the building previously on the site of the St. Martin's Theatre had been demolished, the Ambassadors Theatre itself had to be lower than originally intended so as not to interfere with the 'ancient lights' of the other building. Hence the reason that the stalls of the Ambassadors Theatre is below ground level. Both Theatres were designed by the well known Theatre Architect W. G. R. Sprague.

Right - A Programme for 'Swinging The Gate' at the Ambassadors Theatre in 1940, which was a sequel to 'The Gate Revue' of 1939.

 

 A Seating Plan for the Ambassadors Theatre, probably 1920sThe ERA reported on the Theatre's opening in 1913 saying:- The general scheme of decoration is Louis XVI and the colour scheme of Parma violet ivory, and dull gold is a refreshing change to the warm colours usually selected in decorative schemes. The Auditorium is arranged with a commodious stalls area, behind which is a good roomy pit, and above this level is the dress circle, and forming part of the smae tier is the family circle, or upper boxes, sufficiently raised to form another distinct circle.' - The ERA, 1913.

Right - A Seating Plan for the Ambassadors Theatre, probably 1920s

The Stage Newspaper also reported on the opening of the Ambassadors Theatre in their June 12, 1913 edition saying:- 'This new theatre, which was opened on Thursday by Mr. Durrant Swan with Panthea, a new play from the pen of Monckton Hoffe, stands at the corner of West Street, Shaftesbury Avenue, midway between Cambridge Circus on the one side and Great St. Andrew Street on the other.

It is a one-tier house, decorated chiefly in white and gold, with a seating capacity of about 500, there being two rows of stalls and some dozen of pit on the ground floor, and the comparatively spacious and lofty tier above being divided into balcony stalls and upper circle.

The stage is large enough to accommodate productions of the drawing-room drama, musical piece, and even romantic drama classes, the three sets, by J. A. Fraser and W. H. Davies, used for Panthea, being displayed to considerable advantage.

 

Early Programme for 'The Mousetrap' at the Ambassadors Theatre with Richard Attenborough still in the cast, although his wife, Sheila Sim, was no longer in the play. - Click to see the Entire Programme.This fresh bijou house, which has been erected from the designs and under the superintendence of Mr. W. G. R. Sprague, has for [its] proprietors, The Ambassadors Theatre, Limited, Mr. Herbert Jay being the managing director and licensee. Mr. Swan has taken the Ambassadors on a lease, and among the functionaries connected with the new house must be named the general manager, Mr. F. Rolison Littler (well known as Frank Rolison, with Martin Harvey D.C.), the stage manager, the experienced Mr. Lilford Arthur, and Mr. Mark Strong, the musical director, who has lately been on tour as composer and Conductor.'

The above text (edited) in quotes was first published in The Stage, June 12, 1913.

The world's longest running play, 'The Mousetrap' by Agatha Christie, started its run at the Ambassadors Theatre on the 25 November 1952, with Richard Attenborough and his wife Sheila Sim heading the cast, before moving to the St. Martin's Theatre next door in 1974, where it is still going strong today. In November 2012 the production celebrated its 60th year in the West End.

Left - An early Programme for 'The Mousetrap' at the Ambassadors Theatre with Richard Attenborough still in the cast, although his wife, Sheila Sim, was no longer in the play. - Click to see the Entire Programme.

 

In 1996 the Theatre was bought by the Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) who renamed the Theatre 'The New Ambassadors Theatre' in 1999. However, Sir Stephen Waley Cohen bought the Theatre in 2007 and the name was then reverted back to its original name of 'The Ambassadors Theatre'.

The Ambassadors Theatre is currently owned and run by Sir Stephen Waley Cohen, whose own website for the Theatre can be found here.

 

London's West End Theatres

Adelphi Aldwych Ambassadors Apollo Apollo Victoria Arts Cambridge Criterion Dominion Drury Lane Duchess Duke Of Yorks Fortune Garrick Gielgud Harold Pinter Haymarket Her Majesty's London Coliseum London Palladium Lyceum Lyric New London Noel Coward / Albery Novello Old Vic Palace Peacock Phoenix Piccadilly Playhouse Prince Edward Prince of Wales Queen's Royal Opera House Savoy Shaftesbury St. Martin's Trafalgar Studios / Whitehall Vaudeville Victoria Palace Wyndham's