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The Dominion Theatre, Tottenham Court Road, London

Earlier - The Court Cinema

The Dominion Theatre during the run of 'Evita' in October 2014 - Photo M.L.

Above - The Dominion Theatre during the run of 'Evita' in October 2014 - Photo M.L.

 

 

See a Seating Plan for this Theatre with non commercial and independent opinions on the best seats to book - From Seatplan.comSee London's West End TheatresSee Theatreland MapsThe Giant Portland Stone frontage which forms the main entrance to the Dominion Theatre, and is situated in London's Tottenham Court Road, stands on the site of a former Cinema called the 'Court Cinema' which opened in 1911 and closed in 1928 (shown below). However, the main body of the Dominion Theatre stands on the site of a former brewery, the huge 'Meux's Horse Shoe Brewery' which began trading in 1809 and eventually covered some two to three acres of land, before being demolished in 1922. For a short period the site then became home to 'O'Brien's Fun Fair' and then in 1925 it became home to 'Luna Park' which consisted mostly of a large tent for the showing of variety performances.

 

The Court Cinema, Tottenham Court Road, in 1927 - With kind permission Shamus Dark.

Above - The Court Cinema, Tottenham Court Road, in 1927 - With kind permission Shamus Dark. The Cinema stood on the site of the present Dominion Theatre and the photograph is from the Stockholm Transport Museum archive and forms part of a wonderful set of photos on Flickr entitled 'Charing Cross Road before Centre Point'.

 

A programme for 'Follow Through', the Opening production at the Dominion Theatre on the 3rd of October 1929.The steel framed Dominion Theatre was built for Moss Empires and constructed by Bovis Ltd to the designs of William and T. R Millburn, and opened on the 3rd of October 1929 with a musical comedy in two acts called 'Follow Through' (shown right). The play was written by Laurence Schwab and starred Ada May, Leslie Henson, Elsie Randolph, Viola Compton, and Ivy Tresman, Henson also co-staged and produced the piece with Firth Shephard, but despite the wonderful new Theatre it was playing in it only ran for a disappointing 148 performances.

Right - A programme for 'Follow Through', the Opening production at the Dominion Theatre on the 3rd of October 1929.

The auditorium of the Dominion Theatre was constructed on three levels, Stalls, Dress, and Upper Circle, with a huge capacity of some 2,835 seats.

However, the upper circle is no longer used today and is boarded off so that the current capacity is a more reserved 2,007, but this is not small by any means, indeed the vast Theatre Royal, Drury Lane only holds a couple of hundred more people.

 

Programme for 'Silver Wings' with Lupino Lane, the second production at the newly opened Dominion Theatre in 1930Programme for 'The Maurice Chevalier Season' at the Dominion Theatre Monday December the 1st 1930.The second production at the Dominion Theatre, was the musical 'Silver Wings' (Programme shown left), which was put on after the demise of 'Follow Through' only a few months after the Theatre had opened.

'Silver Wings' stared Lupino Lane, Emma Haig, Ross Fairfax, and Arthur Finn but faired little better than the first production at the Theatre.

Left - A programme for 'Silver Wings', the second production at the Dominion Theatre.

Right - A programme for 'The Maurice Chevalier Season' at the Dominion Theatre which opened on Monday December the 1st 1930. This was the third production at the newly opened Theatre.

Silver Wings was not overly successful and was quickly followed by two weeks of Variety staring Maurice Chevalier.

 

Programme Detail for 'The Maurice Chevalier Season' at the Dominion Theatre Monday December the 1st 1930.

Above - A photograph from the programme for 'The Maurice Chevalier Season' at the Dominion Theatre which opened on Monday December the 1st 1930.

 

A 1931 Postcard of Tottenham Court Road showing the Dominion Theatre near right. The Film showing at the Dominion at the time was 'Cimarron' starring Richard Dix.

Above - A 1931 Postcard of Tottenham Court Road showing the Dominion Theatre near right. The Film showing at the Dominion at the time was 'Cimarron' starring Richard Dix.

 

A Seating Plan for the Dominion Theatre from the 1970s

Above - A Seating Plan for the Dominion Theatre from the 1970s

The Foyer of the Dominion Theatre in 2010 - Courtesy Charles S. P. Jenkins

Above - The Foyer of the Dominion Theatre in 2010 - Courtesy Charles S. P. Jenkins

The Foyer of the Dominion Theatre in 2010 - Courtesy Charles S. P. Jenkins

Above - The Foyer of the Dominion Theatre in 2010 - Courtesy Charles S. P. Jenkins

The Circle Bar of the Dominion Theatre in 2010 - Courtesy Charles S. P. Jenkins

Above - The Circle Bar of the Dominion Theatre in 2010 - Courtesy Charles S. P. Jenkins

 

Programme Detail for 'The Maurice Chevalier Season' at the Dominion Theatre Monday December the 1st 1930.Although the Dominion wasn't designed as a Cinema, its early failure as a live Theatre meant that in 1930, just a year after opening, the Theatre was converted into one, and in 1933 it was sold to Gaumont British. The Theatre has had many alterations over the years and gradually various parts of it were converted to offices and such like. In 1958 a huge screen was installed and a new projection box to service it, and at the same time the Upper Circle was closed, never to open again, so far anyway.

The Dominion did play host to some live entertainment in the 50s and 60s but this was for concerts and not theatre and was only an occasional slot in to the regular Cinema use.

Left - A Programme Detail for 'The Maurice Chevalier Season' at the Dominion Theatre Monday December the 1st 1930.

Advertisment for the forthcoming 'Aladdin' at the Dominion Theatre in 1930.I was at the Dominion myself on October 16th 1977 at 10.30 in the morning to witness the preview screening of the newest blockbuster to come out of Hollywood, 'Star Wars,' and the Theatre was the perfect place for it too. I remember being overwhelmed by that new invention in Cinema sound; Dolby Stereo.

Right - An advertisement for the forthcoming 'Aladdin' at the Dominion Theatre in 1930.

The Dominion was converted back to live Theatre use in 1981, although it also showed occasional films too for a while, notably 'Return of the Jedi' in 1983, but the Theatre has been staging large scale musicals exclusively now for many years. Memorable shows since then have been Dave Clark's 'Time' in 1986 which was hugely technical but failed to entertain; 'Prisoner Cell Block H' in 1989, the musical rehash of the popular TV soap; 'Bernadette' in June 1990, the spectacular flop which ended the following month; 'Barnum' in 1992 which had previously been a major success at the Victoria Palace Theatre; 'Greese' in 1993 which ran for three years at the Dominion and then transferred to the Cambridge; 'Beauty and the Beast' in 1997, running for two and a half years; and of course 'We Will Rock You' which opened at the Dominion on the 14th of May 2002 and ran for 4,600 performances before finally closing on the 31st of May 2014.

The Dominion Theatre during the run of 'We Will Rock You' in October 2006. - Photo M.L.

Above - The Dominion Theatre during the run of 'We Will Rock You' in October 2006. The show opened on the 14th of May 2002 and ran for 4,600 performances before finally closing on the 31st of May 2014.

After 'We Will Rock You' closed in May 2014 the Theatre went dark for major refurbishment which included restoring many of the original features of the Theatre and installing new technical facilities including a new PA System, and new Lighting and Flying systems.

The Dominion Theatre is one of the largest Theatres in London's West End with a seating capacity of 2,069. It is currently owned by Nederlander Dominion Limited. You may like to visit the Theatre's own website here.