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The Carlton Theatre, 63-65 Haymarket, London , SW1

Later - Cineworld, Haymarket / The Cinema On The Haymarket

See also - Sixty Glorious Years Brochure from 1988

The former Carlton Theatre, Haymarket in February 2008, whilst home to a live version of Noel Coward's 'Brief Encounter' in its temporarily converted number one Cinema - Photo M.L.

Above - The former Carlton Theatre, Haymarket in February 2008, whilst home to a live version of Noel Coward's 'Brief Encounter' in its temporarily converted number one Cinema - Photo M.L.

 

A Programme for 'Lady Luck', the first production at the newly opened Carlton Theatre, Haymarket. - Click to see entire programme.See Theatreland MapsThe Carlton Theatre opened on the 27th April 1927 with the successful musical play 'Lady Luck' by Frith Shephard which ran for 324 performances. The cast included Leslie Henson, Cyril Ritchard, Phyllis Monkman and Madge Elliot. The programme for this first production at the Carlton Theatre can be seen right.

Right - A Programme for 'Lady Luck', the first production at the newly opened Carlton Theatre, Haymarket. - Click to see entire programme.

The Carlton Theatre, Haymarket from the opening night programme of 'Lady Luck'. The Theatre was built on former coaching stage land called Anglesea Yard and was only the second Theatre to be built in London after the First World War. The first was the Fortune.

The Carlton Theatre was designed by Frank T. Verity and S. Beverley and on its opening the Stage Newspaper reported on the new Theatre saying:- 'Italian and Spanish Renaissance details inspired the treatment of both the exterior and interior of the theatre. The exterior is a good pyramidical composition, with excellent spacing and rhythm of voids, giving a sense of solidarity. The difficult graduations from plain wall to enriched tympanums are dexterously maintained, the fillings of these being beautifully disposed as regards light and shade.

The auditorium walls are of gold scrumble, the lower part being in golden brown oak, while the boxes are in cream and grey, picked out in dull pinks and bands of wedgwood blue and white.' - The Stage 1927.

Left - The Carlton Theatre, Haymarket from the opening night programme of 'Lady Luck'.

 

The auditorium of the Carlton Theatre in 1927 - From a Brochure produced by Cannon Cinemas in 1988 to celebrate sixty years of the Carlton Theatre - Click to see the whole Brochure.

Above - The auditorium of the Carlton Theatre in 1927 - From a Brochure produced by Cannon Cinemas in 1988 to celebrate sixty years of the Carlton Theatre - Click to see the whole Brochure.

 

A Programme for the musical comedy 'The Yellow Mask', the second production to be put on at the Carlton Theatre. The second production at the Carlton Theatre, after 'Lady Luck' closed, was 'The Yellow Mask' which was a musical comedy by Edgar Wallace. This production didn't stay long at the Carlton before it was transferred to His Majesty's Theatre and then the London Palladium, running for 218 performances altogether.

Right - A Programme for the musical comedy 'The Yellow Mask', the second production to be put on at the Carlton Theatre. In the cast were George Welford, Frank Adair, Reginald Tate, Wilfred Temple, David Hutcheson, Howard Huxtable, Sybil Wise, Bobby Howes, Winnie Collins, Frank Cochrane, Malcolm Keen, Phyllis Dare, Joch Findlay, Frank Adair, Phil Lester, and Mona Jenkins.

After this a musical comedy called 'Good News' was put on at the Carlton, the song 'The Best Things in Life are Free' comes from this production. George Robey was in a review called 'In Other Words' in 1928 and then the last live production at the Carlton, before it went over to full time Cinema use, was 'Merry Merry' in February 1929, which transferred to the Lyceum in April the same year when the Carlton was wired for 'Talkies' and reopened with the Film 'The Perfect Alibi'.

 

Section of the auditorium ceiling and one of the original chandeliers of the Carlton Theatre, still visible in 2008 - Photo M.L.Right from the beginning the Carlton Theatre was designed for both Cinema and Theatre use and was fitted with a large and fully equipped stage. But as detailed above the Theatre was soon being used for full time Cinema when Live Theatre finished in 1929.

Left - A Section of the auditorium ceiling and one of the original chandeliers of the Carlton Theatre, still visible in 2008 - Photo M.L.

The auditorium consisted of three levels, stalls, royal circle, and balcony, and on the Theatre's opening it could accommodate 1,150 as a Theatre and 1,159 as a cinema.

 

Cinema programme for Noel Coward's 'Bitter Sweet' at the Carlton Theatre in 1933.The ceiling of the auditorium was a lattice of beams which cleverly hid ventilation and can still be seen today in the Cinema's number one screen. The foyer and dress circle bar were also of note and have been mostly preserved despite years of cinema use. The basement of the Cinema still houses a large room which was originally a bar and restaurant called the 'Soda Fountain,' and this sill retains its Art Deco features such as mirrored walls and the original wooden paneled bar but sadly this is now used as a store room.

Right - A Cinema programme for Noel Coward's 'Bitter Sweet' at the Carlton Theatre in 1933.

An advertisement for 'Gulliver's Travels' at the Carlton Theatre from a programme for 'The light that failed' at the Plaza Theatre on the 12th of January 1939 - Courtesy Hugh McCullough of CinePhoto.co.uk.The last time the Carlton was used in it's original guise as a live Theatre was for a production of 'The Anthony Newly Show' in March of 1960. This was a variety show followed by a showing of the film 'Lets Get Married,' which also starred Anthony Newley.

Left - An advertisement for 'Gulliver's Travels' at the Carlton Theatre from a programme for 'The light that failed' at the Plaza Theatre on the 12th of January 1939 - Courtesy Hugh McCullough of CinePhoto.co.uk.

The Carlton Cinema, as it was known by the 1970s, finally closed in 1977 and was then partly demolished. The stage house was completely removed and the land sold off for the building of an office block on its site.

 

A Film Programme for the Carlton Theatre in 1929.The Carlton's auditorium was later split into three smaller cinemas and reopened by Classic Cinemas in 1979 showing 'Capricorn One' in each of its three new screens. The number one screen was sited in the former balcony of the Theatre which was extended down to the proscenium wall, and today seats 491, but still retains the original Theatre's Art Deco features. The other two screens were situated in the original Stalls of the Theatre with a wall running down the middle separating the two cinemas, which today seat 201 and 222.

On July the 25th 1985 a major fire almost completely destroyed the foyer of the Theatre, luckily the Cinema's three auditoria suffered only smoke damage, but the foyer had to be completely restored by the then owners Cannon Cinemas. There is more information on this,and the history of the building with many archive images, in their Sixty Glorious Years Brochure of 1988 which you can read here.

Right - A Film Programme for the Carlton Theatre in 1929. The main feature was the Paramount film 'The Four Feathers' but preceding this was a showing of 'Music of Many Nations' billed as 'A Paramount Novelty In Sound'. The comedy film 'Dear Teacher' followed this and then after a short interval there was a live stage presentation introducing the main feature 'The Four Feathers'. You got your money's worth in those days! See Programme details below.

 

Details from a Film Programme for the Carlton Theatre in 1929

Above - Details from a Film Programme for the Carlton Theatre in 1929

 

Samuel House, the office building which was constructed on the site of the former stage house of the Carlton Theatre in 1977 - Photo M.L. 08.

Above - Samuel House, the office building which was constructed on the site of the former stage house of the Carlton Theatre in 1977 - Photo M.L. 08.

 

Noel Coward's 'Brief Encounter' live at the Former Carlton Theatre, Haymarket in February 2008 - Photo M.L.Ironically, in February 2008, the Cinema was back in use again as a live Theatre. The two smaller screens in the former Stalls of the Theatre were temporarily mothballed, and, because the stage house was demolished in 1977, a new stage was built to accommodate live performances, this time at the front of the number one Cinema, which is in the former Balcony of the original Theatre. Live performances of 'Brief Encounter' by the Kneehigh Theatre Company began previewing there on the 2nd of February 2008.

The play was a mixture of live action and film footage, and to recreate the Cinema experience of the 1940s the Theatre itself boasted ushers and usherettes in period costume carrying trays of ice cream and Champaign, whilst the foyers and bars were decked out with balloons. The play also included many of Noel Coward's songs and some of his poems set to music, and was highly successful right up to the end of its season at the former Carlton Theatre in November 2008.

 

The Cineworld Cinema Haymarket's number one Cinema situated in the old Carlton Theatre's Balcony, which in 2008 was temporarily converted for live Theatre use by the Kneehigh Theatre Company for their production of Noel Coward's 'Brief Encounter.' - Photo M.L.

Above - The Cineworld Cinema Haymarket's number one Cinema situated in the old Carlton Theatre's Balcony, which in 2008 was temporarily converted for live Theatre use by the Kneehigh Theatre Company for their production of Noel Coward's 'Brief Encounter.' - Photo M.L.

The Foyer of the Cineworld Cinema Haymarket, previously the Carlton Theatre, which in 2008 was temporarily converted back to live Theatre use by the Kneehigh Theatre Company for their production of Noel Coward's 'Brief Encounter.' - Photo M.L.

Above - The Foyer of the Cineworld Cinema Haymarket, previously the Carlton Theatre, which in 2008 was temporarily converted back to live Theatre use by the Kneehigh Theatre Company for their production of Noel Coward's 'Brief Encounter.' - Photo M.L.

 

Programme for 'To-Night at 8.30' at the Phoenix Theatre in 1936.  - Click for more information on this and the Phoenix TheatreBrief Encounter began life as a one act play called 'Still Life,' and was just one of a series of one act plays put on by Noel Coward at the Phoenix Theatre in 1936 and collectively called 'To-Night At 8.30.'

Left - Programme for 'To-Night at 8.30' at the Phoenix Theatre in 1936. - Click for more information on this and the Phoenix Theatre.

Still Life was then made into a film, directed by David Lean, the now classic 'Brief Encounter' with Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard, which opened on the 26th of November 1945 at the New Gallery in Regent Street, which has recently been converted into a Habitat store.

A live musical version of the play then followed in 1968 called 'Mr and Mrs' at the Palace Theatre but this was a flop and closed after only 44 performances.

A new film version opened in 1974 with Richard Burton and Sofia Loren but it too failed to impress.

Since 'Brief Encounter' closed at the Carlton in 2008 the Theatre has been back use as a full time Cinema again. More information on the history of the Carlton Theatre can be seen in Cannon Cinemas Sixty Glorious Years Brochure from 1988 here.

 

The former Carlton Theatre, Haymarket, when in use as a Cinema called Cineworld, Haymarket in 2006 - Photo M. L.

Above - The former Carlton Theatre, Haymarket, when in use as a 'Cineworld' Cinema in 2006 - Photo M. L.

See also - The Sixty Glorious Years of the Carlton Theatre Brochure from 1988