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The Garrick Theatre, Charing Cross Road, London

See also - The Garrick Theatre, Whitechapel

The Garrick Theatre during the run of Kenneth Branagh's production of 'Romeo and Juliet' in May 2016

Above - The Garrick Theatre during the run of Kenneth Branagh's production of 'Romeo and Juliet' in May 2016

 

 

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 Garrick Theatre opened on Wednesday the 24th of April 1889 with a play called 'The Profligate' by A. W. Pinero. The Theatre backs onto The Duke Of York's Theatre and was designed by Walter Emden and C. J. Phipps, and built by Messrs Peto with deep excavations so that the back of the Dress Circle would be level with the street. This caused some problems because an old river known in Roman times was discovered to be running through the land and held up construction considerably. At one point it seemed that the Theatre might have had to be given up on altogether but eventually it did get finished.

 

The Garrick Theatre during the run of 'Oh! my Papa!' in 1958 - Courtesy Gerry Atkins

Above - The Garrick Theatre during the run of 'Oh! my Papa!' in 1958 - Courtesy Gerry Atkins

 

Garrick Theatre seating plan - Pre 1907 - Click to EnlargeProgramme detail for ' The Bishop's Move' at The Garrick Theatre 1902.The Garrick's auditorium was constructed on four levels, Stalls and Pit, Dress Circle, Upper Circle, and Gallery, and was quoted in the ERA as being able to seat 1,500 on its opening, but by 1912 it was said to be able to handle only 1,250 and this after two Circle Boxes were removed. Today, although the bench seating is still in place in the Gallery, it has not been used for over 60 years, so the current capacity is a much smaller 656.

Left - A Programme detail for ' The Bishop's Move' at The Garrick Theatre 1902.

Two days after the opening of the Garrick Theatre, The Stage printed a review of the building in their April 26th edition saying:- 'The style of Mr Hare's new theatre is classic.

The whole of the Charing Cross Road front is executed in Portland Stone and Bath Stone and has a long frontage of 140 feet.

Programme detail for ' Rejane' at The Garrick Theatre early 1900s.Programme detail for ' Pilkerton's Peerage' at The Garrick Theatre 1902.The theatre is entered on the dress circle level, which is reached after passing through the outer vestibule by a large inner vestibule. A striking object in this is a handsome oil painting copy of the celebrated portrait of Garrick. From this, by a staircase on either side, the stalls are entered; and from it, by a staircase, the foyer level, with its refreshment saloon and smoke room, is approached.

Left - A Programme detail for ' Rejane' at The Garrick Theatre early 1900s.

Right - A Programme detail for ' Pilkerton's Peerage' at The Garrick Theatre 1902.

The saloon on the foyer opens on to a broad balcony facing on to Charing Cross Road, the balcony being covered with an arcade...

 

A Mid 1920s Seating Plan for the Garrick Theatre. Note the missing Gallery which is still there but has been unused now for over 60 years.

Above - A Mid 1920s Seating Plan for the Garrick Theatre. Note the missing Gallery which is still there but has been unused now for over 60 years.

 

Programme detail for ' The Wedding Guest' at The Garrick Theatre 1900. A Programme for ' Whitewashing Julia' at The Garrick Theatre early 1903.Programme for ' Madame Louise' at The Garrick Theatre early 1940s....The floor of the vestibule is laid with mosaic and that of the entrance hall and saloons in marquetry, and they are surrounded by dados of polished walnut in panels, the upper part of the walls being divided by marble pilasters, the panels thus formed being filled with mirrors and decorations in relief.

Left - Two Garrick Theatre programmes; ' The Wedding Guest', 1900, and ' Whitewashing Julia' in early 1903.

Right - An early 1940s programme for ' Madame Louise' at The Garrick Theatre.

The ceilings are of a highly ornamental character, the whole of these decorations being in the Italian Renaissance style. To every part of the house there are two separate means of exit, ten in all.'

The above text in quotes was first published in The Stage, April 26th 1889.

 

A Sketch of the Garrick Theatre Frontage - From 'Modern Opera Houses and Theatres' by Edwin O Sachs, Published 1896-1898, and held at the Library of the Technical University (TU) in Delft - Kindly sent in by John Otto.

Above - A Sketch of the Garrick Theatre Frontage - From 'Modern Opera Houses and Theatres' by Edwin O Sachs, Published 1896-1898, and held at the Library of the Technical University (TU) in Delft - Kindly sent in by John Otto.

The ERA also reported on the opening of the Garrick Theatre in their 27th of April 1889 edition saying:- 'The new theatre erected for Mr John Hare, at the corner of the Charing-cross-road, at the back of the National Gallery, and named "The Garrick," was opened to the public, for the first time, on the evening of Wednesday last, and, as might have been expected, was filled from the front row of the stalls to the topmost seat in the gallery, the higher priced parts of the house being occupied by a distinguished assembly that included representatives of art, science, literature, and fashion. Naturally, everybody - those who had been privileged to attend the private view on Monday alone excepted - was eager to get an answer to the question, "What is the new theatre like?" and, as there may be many others interested in things theatrical who have a like curiosity, what has been done by architects, builders, decorators, and upholsterers may be described in detail.

A Longitudinal Section Plan of the Garrick Theatre - From 'Modern Opera Houses and Theatres' by Edwin O Sachs, Published 1896-1898, and held at the Library of the Technical University (TU) in Delft - Kindly sent in by John Otto.

Above - A Longitudinal Section Plan of the Garrick Theatre - From 'Modern Opera Houses and Theatres' by Edwin O Sachs, Published 1896-1898, and held at the Library of the Technical University (TU) in Delft - Kindly sent in by John Otto.

A Plan of the Garrick Theatre - From 'Modern Opera Houses and Theatres' by Edwin O Sachs, Published 1896-1898, and held at the Library of the Technical University (TU) in Delft - Kindly sent in by John Otto.The new theatre has been erected mainly from the plans of Mr Emden, with sundry alterations suggested and carried out by Mr C. J. Phipps, the builders being the eminent firm of Messrs Peto.

Right - A Plan of the Garrick Theatre - From 'Modern Opera Houses and Theatres' by Edwin O Sachs, Published 1896-1898, and held at the Library of the Technical University (TU) in Delft - Kindly sent in by John Otto.

The style of the theatre is classic. The whole of the Charing-cross-road front is executed in Portland and Bath stone, and has a long frontage of about 140 feet to the Charing-cross-road. The theatre is entered on the dress-circle level, which is reached after passing through the outer vestibule by a large inner vestibule, which will afford accommodation for lounging and promenading between the acts. From this, by a staircase on either side, the stalls are entered; and from it, by a staircase, the foyer level, with its refreshment saloon and smoke-room, is approached. The saloon on the foyer opens on to a broad balcony facing on to the Charing-cross-road, the balcony being covered with an arcade. This balcony, when the warm weather sets in, will doubtless be regarded as a great boon. The floor of the outer vestibule is laid in mosaic, and that of the entrance hall and saloons in parquetry, and they are surrounded by dados of polished walnut in panels, the upper part of the walls being divided by marble pilasters, the panels thus formed being filled with mirrors and decorations in relief. The ceilings are of a highly ornamental character, the whole of these decorations being in the Italian Renaissance style.

To every part of the house there are two separate means of exit, ten in all. The construction of the theatre is fireproof, and is arranged on the same system as that adopted by Mr Emden in Terry's and the Court Theatres, by which the columns, always a great source of annoyance to the sight-seeing public, are entirely avoided. The Prince's Room is entered from the Charing-cross-road front by a separate entrance, after passing through a small lobby.

A Plan of the First Tier of the Garrick Theatre - From 'Modern Opera Houses and Theatres' by Edwin O Sachs, Published 1896-1898, and held at the Library of the Technical University (TU) in Delft - Kindly sent in by John Otto.The house consists of four tiers, pit, stalls, dress circle, upper circle, and gallery, and will hold about 1,300 persons. The auditorium is decorated in Italian Renaissance, the ornamental work being in high, bold relief. The proscenium opening is formed by groups of columns on either side of the first or proscenium box, the general form of the theatre being after that of the Covent Garden, with four openings forming a square, supporting in their centre a circular dome. The box front of the dress circle tier is divided by groups of cupids supporting shields crowned with laurels, each shield bearing the name of a celebrated author.

Left - A Plan of the First Tier of the Garrick Theatre - From 'Modern Opera Houses and Theatres' by Edwin O Sachs, Published 1896-1898, and held at the Library of the Technical University (TU) in Delft - Kindly sent in by John Otto.

The lighting is by electricity, supplemented by gas in case of accident, and there being no sunlight, all the lighting in the ceiling is round the dome itself. This part of the work, as also the flash light system as applied to the stage, has been carried out by Messrs Vaughan and Brown, of Kirby-street and Farringdon-street. The whole of the auditorium is heated with hot water on the Canadian system, introduced into England by Mr Cowan, and the ventilation is carried out by self-acting exhausts.

The decoration of the house is white with gold ground, by which the ornamental work is well thrown into strong relief, the ground colour being a cherry red. The walls round dress-circle and stalls are hung with cherry-coloured red silk, the pit walls being covered with Japanese paper of cherry-coloured red and gold, and the upper circle and the rest of the house being decorated in the same colour. The box rests are in cherry-coloured red satin, and pit patrons will rejoice to find that the pit seats are of a new kind, to lift up, and with arm rests to each, and arranged so as to take the hat, coat, umbrella, and programme. They have been manufactured by Messrs Lazarus and Son, of Curtain-road, the patentees with Mr Farini. The stalls are seated with a lounge chair with padded back, circular on plan, covered in the same cherry coloured red silk as in the dress circle, and the other seats in the house are covered in materials of a similar colour.

A Plan of the Second Tier of the Garrick Theatre - From 'Modern Opera Houses and Theatres' by Edwin O Sachs, Published 1896-1898, and held at the Library of the Technical University (TU) in Delft - Kindly sent in by John Otto. The theatre is well provided with fire appliances. The stage is ventilated with large exhausts in the fire-proof roof over it, which also provides for drawing off the smoke and fumes in the event of a fire. There is accommodation for both ladies and gentlemen in every part of the house, with cloak rooms and lavatories and every convenience. The stage also is fitted with two separate exits. The proscenium opening is 30ft, and the stage about 40ft. in depth. The dressing-rooms are in a separate block, and are provided with every convenience, hot and cold water, and baths for the use of the artists.

Right - A Plan of the Second Tier of the Garrick Theatre - From 'Modern Opera Houses and Theatres' by Edwin O Sachs, Published 1896-1898, and held at the Library of the Technical University (TU) in Delft - Kindly sent in by John Otto.

The decorations have been carried out by Messrs Heighway, Kusel, and Depree, and the furnishing by Messrs Gregory. In the elegantly appointed vestibule will be found a full-length, handsomely framed copy of Gainsborough's portrait of Garrick, Mr W, Harford, scenic artist to the theatre, has painted a beautiful act-drop that is sure to be admired; and early visitors to the cheaper parts of the house will fully appreciate the provision made to shelter them in the time of inclement weather.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the ERA, April 27th 1889.

 

1905 Postcard of The Garrick Theatre .The Garrick Theatre was very nearly destroyed in 1934 when plans were prepared to convert the building into a so called 'Super Cinema'. An architect was even named and a rebuilding date given but thankfully this plan never came to fruition and the Theatre survives much in its original state to this day.

Right - A 1905 Postcard showing The Garrick Theatre.

After the Second World War began the Theatre was tried out as a 'Forces Theatre' but this failed and the Garrick closed and didn't reopen until September of 1941 with a play called 'Room V'. After this though the Theatre has had many successes.

The Garrick Theatre is currently run by Nimax Theatres whose own website can be found here.

Some of the archive newspaper reports on this page were collated and kindly sent in for inclusion by B.F.

 

Some images of the Garrick Theatre during Past Productions

The Garrick Theatre whilst in production for 'Amy's View' in October 2006. - Photo M.L.

Above - The Garrick Theatre whilst in production for 'Amy's View' in October 2006.

The Garrick Theatre during the run of 'Zorro' in February 2009 - Photo M.L.

Above - The Garrick Theatre during the run of 'Zorro' in February 2009 - Photo M.L.

The Garrick Theatre, newly painted and displaying signage for 'Chicago' which transferred from the Cambridge Theatre in October 2011 for a November 7th reopening at the Garrick Theatre - Photo M.L.

Above - The Garrick Theatre, newly painted and displaying signage for 'Chicago' which transferred from the Cambridge Theatre in October 2011 for a November 7th reopening at the Garrick Theatre - Photo M.L.

The Garrick Theatre during the run of 'Rock of Ages' in March 2013 - Photo M.L.

Above - The Garrick Theatre during the run of 'Rock of Ages' in March 2013 - Photo M.L.

The Garrick Theatre during the run of 'Twelve Angry Men' in April 2014 - Photo M. L.

Above - The Garrick Theatre during the run of 'Twelve Angry Men' in April 2014 - Photo M. L.

The Garrick Theatre during the run of 'The Scottsboro Boys' in October 2014 - Photo M. L.

Above - The Garrick Theatre during the run of 'The Scottsboro Boys' in October 2014 - Photo M. L.

The Garrick Theatre during the run of 'Let It Be' in March 2015 - Photo M. L.

Above - The Garrick Theatre during the run of 'Let It Be' in March 2015 - Photo M. L.

The Garrick Theatre advertising the Kenneth Branagh Company's forthcoming Production of 'The Winter's Tale' in September 2015 - Photo M. L.

Above - The Garrick Theatre advertising the Kenneth Branagh Company's forthcoming Production of 'The Winter's Tale' in September 2015 - Photo M. L.

 

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