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Daly's Theatre, 2 & 8, Cranbourn Street, Leicester Square, London, WC2H 7AL

Later - Warner Theatre, Cinema / Warner Village / Vue West End

Other Leicester Square Theatres and Cinemas

Daly's Theatre, Leicester Square - From a postcard. In the distance the Empire Theatre can also be seen.

Above - Daly's Theatre, Leicester Square - From a postcard. In the distance the Empire Theatre can also be seen.

 

Daly's Theatre Seating Plane Pre 1907 - Click to Enlarge.See Theatreland MapsDaly's Theatre in London's Leicester Square was built at a cost of £60,000 by Frank Kirk to the designs of the architect Spencer Chadwick, who was assisted by C. J. Phipps. The Theatre was one of the first in London to be built using the Cantilever system, and the foundation stone was laid by Ada Rehan on October the 30th, 1891. The Theatre opened, under the management of Augustin Daly, on the 27th of June 1893 with Shakespeare's 'The Taming Of The Shrew' following an address by Ada Rehan, who was part of Daly's American Company; the National Anthem, sung by Lloyd Daubigny and Chorus; and 'The Star Spangled Banner' which was sung by Percy Haswell and Lena Loraine and Chorus.

Augustin Daly was an American Producer who had brought his productions to London many times from 1884 to 1891 with great success. Eventually it was decided that a permanent home for Daly's Company in London would be beneficial and in collaboration with George Edwardes the new Theatre in Leicester Square was built.

 

Programme for 'An Artist's Model' at Daly's Theatre in February 1895 - Click to see entire Programme.

Above - A Programme for 'An Artist's Model' at Daly's Theatre in February 1895
Click to see entire Programme.

 

1905 Tinted Postcard of Daly's Theatre.The day after Daly's Theatre opened the Daily Graphic printed a description of the new building in it's June 28th 1893 edition, reprinted in Mander & Mitchenson's 'Lost Theatres Of London' which said:- 'The facade in Cranbourne Street is a pleasing relief from the unimposing architecture of most of the London theatres. It has been designed in the Italian Renaissance style, and executed in Ham Hill stone.

Right - A 1905 Tinted Postcard of Daly's Theatre.

The ground floor is of the rustic order, and from it rises a Doric base with fluted columns. In the centre of the building is a bold pediment over a series of columns, a design which gives a pleasing dignity to the front. At each end of the facade is a graceful tower with carved figure spandrels representing the muses of song. The whole is crowned by a fine example of the Attic order...

 

Programme for 'An Artist's Model' at Daly's Theatre in February 1895- Click to see entire Programme.

Above - A Programme for the Second Edition of 'An Artist's Model' at Daly's Theatre in September 1895
Click to see entire Programme.

 

Programme for 'The Dollar Princess' at Daly's Theatre in 1925 but first produced at Daly's in 1909....The main entrance of the theatre (Shown Below Left) opens into a handsomely furnished hall, with a mosaic flooring. A feature of the hall is the American logwood stove, which gives to the entrance a warm and cheering effect. From the entrance-hall a spacious staircase leads to the foyer, which arrangement, it is claimed by the architect, is a distinct novelty in theatrical construction. The foyer itself has been carried out in an Italian style, with a treatment of gold and blending tints.

Right - A Programme for 'The Dollar Princess' at Daly's Theatre in 1925 but first produced at Daly's in 1909.

The main entrance of the theatre opens into a handsomely furnished hall, with a mosaic flooring. A feature of the hall is the American logwood stove, which gives to the entrance a warm and cheering effect - From an 1895 Daly's Theatre Programme.On entering the auditorium the first thing to impress the spectator is the bold originality of its outline and decoration. The general scheme of colour is a blending of red, gold, silver and bronze.

Left - The main entrance of the theatre opens into a handsomely furnished hall, with a mosaic flooring. A feature of the hall is the American logwood stove, which gives to the entrance a warm and cheering effect - From a 1895 Daly's Theatre Programme.

The circle fronts and boxes have been modelled in such a way as to represent boatloads of sea nymphs and Cupids in the act of blowing bubbles, which bubbles have been ingeniously converted into electric lights of many tints. The auditorium will seat upwards of twelve hundred persons, and it has been so arranged that the public will be able to obtain a good view of the stage from all parts of the house.' Text in quotes from the Daily Graphic June 28th 1893 edition, reprinted in Mander & Mitchenson's 'Lost Theatres Of London'.

 

The ERA printed a review of the building and its opening production in their 1st of July 1893 edition, reprinted in Mander & Mitchenson's 'Lost Theatres of London' which said:

Left - Programme for 'That's a Pretty Thing' at Daly's Theatre in 1933.In the vestibule, the fine marble floor and the circular gallery above are most remarkable - From a Daly's Theatre Programme 1895 .'A brilliant audience, which included many celebrities in the legal, literary, and dramatic worlds, assembled in Mr. Augustin Daly's new theatre in Leicester Square on Tuesday last, to admire the house, and to witness a performance of The Taming of the Shrew, with Miss Ada Rehan in the part of Katharine.

Left - A Programme for 'That's a Pretty Thing' at Daly's Theatre in 1933.

Above Right - In the vestibule, the fine marble floor and the circular gallery above are most remarkable - From a Daly's Theatre Programme 1895 .

After the overture, the rose-coloured, gold embroidered curtains separated, and showed a number of ladies and gentlemen in evening dress, who subsequently, led by Mr. Lloyd Daubigny, sang 'God Save the Queen,' the audience, of course, standing, and then Miss Percy Haswell and Miss Lena Loraine sang the solo part of 'The Star Spangled Banner,' in which the chorus heartily joined. Loud and long was the applause which greeted Miss Ada Rehan, who was visibly affected by the cordiality of the welcome, but who preserved sufficient composure to repeat, with exquisite distinctness and deep feeling, the 'Song of Union,' written for the occasion at the Falls of Niagara, by Mr. Clement Scott.

 

Programme for 'Charley's Aunt' at Daly's Theatre in 1934.In the vestibule, the fine marble floor and the circular gallery above (Shown Above Right) are most remarkable. In the auditorium has been made one of the boldest experiments in theatrical architecture that we have for some time seen.

Left - A Programme for 'Charley's Aunt' at Daly's Theatre in 1934.

The theory that colouring and design in the body of a playhouse should be 'kept down' has been entirely abandoned; and instead of the half-tints and delicate traceries of some theatres, we have great masses of ruby, Venetian red, dull silver and burnished gold. Additional warmth is given to the colour-scheme by the marqueterie panelling with which the walls of the lower part of the auditorium are covered. The general effect of the scheme is powerful and impressive.

Daly's Theatre from an 1895 Programme.There is fine freedom in the modelling of the Cupids in boats which adorn each of the circles; and the nobility of aim is well sustained in the dome, with its severe scroll around the sunlight, and its immense winged figures of Fame. The style of most theatres is based on the idea of a drawing-room; Daly's rather recalls the more solid dining or banqueting apartment. In somewhat curious contrast to this solidity are the delicacy and graceful gaiety of the curtain, upon which Miss Ada Rehan is represented seated studying a part from an open book, whilst a dark haired Cupid endeavours in vain to distract her from her task -an excellent moral, by the way, for any actress. It is only fair to the architect to mention that on Tuesday the impression created by the auditorium, as a whole, was imperfect.

Right - Daly's Theatre from an 1895 Programme.

Programme for 'Young England' at Daly's Theatre in 1935 which was a transfer from the Victoria Palace Theatre.Owing to some hitch in the electric lighting apparatus, a great many of the lamps around the circles were extinguished, and the effect was not the same as it would have been with the amount of illumination on which Mr. Spencer Chadwick had relied when he made his plans. Tastes may differ as to the style best suited for the inside of a playhouse, but there can be no two opinions about the manner in which the highly original leading idea has been carried out, or as to the sumptuous style of the upholstery. Daly's Theatre has certainly one of the most original and artistic interiors in London.'

Left - A Programme for 'Young England' at Daly's Theatre in 1935 which was a transfer from the Victoria Palace Theatre.

The above text in quotes was first published in the Era July 1893, reprinted in Mander & Mitchenson's 'Lost Theatres Of London'.


Presentation Souvenir Programme for the 1,000th performance of 'The Maid of the Mountains' at the Dalys Theatre on June the 24th 1919 - Courtesy Laurens Willard.George Edwardes died in October 1915 leaving £49,780, quite a sum in those days. His daughter Mrs. Sherbrook and Robert Evett took over the running of the Theatre in George's absence but continued his successful and well established run of Continental operettas with a production of 'The Happy Day' in 1916, followed by Presentation Souvenir Programme for the 1,000th performance of 'The Maid of the Mountains' at the Dalys Theatre on June the 24th 1919 - Courtesy Laurens Willard.'The Maid of the Mountains' in 1917, 'A Southern Maid in 1920 and 'Sybil' in 1921.

Left and Right - A Presentation Souvenir Programme for the 1,000th performance of 'The Maid of the Mountains' at the Dalys Theatre on June the 24th 1919 - Courtesy Laurens Willard.

The Maid of the Mountains was particularly successful, and introduced Lottie Collins' daughter Jose Collins. The production had an immense run of 1,352 performances.

Eventually in 1922 the Trustees of George Edwardes' estate sold the Theatre to James White, who was a gambler on the Stock Exchange, for £200,000. Sadly James White was to commit suicide just five years later in 1927.

Daly's Theatre closed on the 25th of September 1937 after the last performance of 'The First Legion' and was sold to Warner Brothers who demolished the Theatre and rebuilt it as a Theatre and Cinema called the Warner Theatre. (See Below).

 

The Warner Theatre, Cinema, Leicester Square
Later - Warner Village / Vue West End

The Warner Cinema during the run of 'Giant' with Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean in a photograph taken on the 3rd of January 1957 - Courtesy Allan Hailstone

Above - The Warner Cinema during the run of 'Giant' with Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean in a photograph taken on the 3rd of January 1957 - Courtesy Allan Hailstone. Also see the London Hippodrome.

Daly's Theatre closed on the 25th of September 1937 after the last performance of 'The First Legion' and was sold to Warner Brothers who demolished the Theatre and rebuilt it as a Theatre and Cinema called the Warner Theatre. This was built by E. A. Stone and T. R. Somerford and could accommodate 1,775 people on two levels. The Warner opened on the 12th of October 1938 with 'The Adventures Of Robin Hood.'

 

The Warner Cinema during the run of 'A Star is Born' with Judy Garland and James Mason in a photograph taken on the 11 April 1955 - Courtesy Allan Hailstone.

Above - The Warner Cinema during the run of 'A Star is Born' with Judy Garland and James Mason in a photograph taken on the 11 April 1955 - Courtesy Allan Hailstone.

The Warner Cinema at night, during the run of 'A Star is Born' with Judy Garland and James Mason in 1955 - Courtesy Allan Hailstone.

Above - The Warner Cinema at night, during the run of 'A Star is Born' with Judy Garland and James Mason in 1955 - Courtesy Allan Hailstone.

The Warner Theatre was itself demolished in the early 1980s although the Facade of the Theatre was retained. The new building was a modern Warner Cinema complex known as the 'Warrner Village' which had 9 screens, see photographs below.

Detail of photograph taken in June 2003 showing the Warner Village, and the London Hippodrome. - Photo M.L.

Above - Detail of photograph taken in June 2003 showing the Warner Village, and the London Hippodrome. - Photo M.L.

Photograph taken in June 2003 showing the Empire Leicester Square, The Warner Village, and in the distance, the London Hippodrome. - Photo M.L.

Above - Photograph taken in June 2003 showing the Empire Leicester Square, The Warner Village, and in the distance, the London Hippodrome. - Photo M.L.

 

The Warner Village was later bought by Vue in 2003 and the building is now known as Vue West End who say that the complex houses '9 state of the art auditoriums, each with wall to ceiling screens, air conditioning and Dolby surround sound in each auditorium.'

Vue West End, Leicester Square in December 2006, on the site of the former Daly's Theatre - Photo M.L.

Above - Vue West End, Leicester Square in December 2006, on the site of the former Daly's Theatre - Photo M.L.

Index to other Theatres and Cinemas in London's Leicester Square