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The Noel Coward Theatre, St. Martin's Lane, London WC2

Formerly - The New Theatre / Albery Theatre

The Noel Coward Theatre during the run of 'Avenue Q' in October 2006 - Photo M.L.

Above - The Noel Coward Theatre during the run of 'Avenue Q' in October 2006

 

 

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 Noel Coward Theatre opened as the 'New Theatre' on the 12th of March 1903 with the play' 'Rosemary' by Louis N. Parker, and starring Charles Wyndham and his wife Mary Moore. The Theatre was built for Sir Charles Wyndham by the well known Theatre Architect W. G. R. Sprague. It was Sprague who had designed Charles Wyndham's first Theatre, the 'Wyndham's Theatre' in Charing Cross Road, which had opened in November 1899.

 

The New Theatre - From a Postcard sent in 1908.When Wyndham bought the land to build his first Theatre he also acquired the land to the rear of it which he had originally intended to sell on. However this deal fell through and he decided he might as well build another Theatre on this spare land which fronted onto St. Martin's Lane. Hence the new Theatre was built and named The New Theatre, which was only the second to be built on St. Martin's Lane. The first was The Trafalgar Square Theatre, now known as The Duke Of York's which opened in 1892. The London Coliseum was also being built on St. Martin's lane during the building of The New but it didn't open until 1904.

Pre 1907 seating plan for the New Theatre - Click to Enlarge.Left - The New Theatre - From a Postcard sent in 1908.

Right - A Pre 1907 seating plan for the New Theatre - Click to Enlarge.

The New Theatre auditorium, with a capacity of 877, was built on four levels, Stalls, Dress Circle, Upper Circle, and Gallery, and decked out in the so called 'Free Clasical Style' in Cream and Gold which is much how it remains today. The Theatre backs onto the Wyndham's Theatre and both Theatres share the same stage door. There is also a bridge joining the Theatres above the public passageway that runs between them.

The Programme on the opening night of the New Theatre enthused thus: 'The front elevation is of the free classic order, and is at once dignified and effective. The Theatre is approached by a roomy Vestibule leading to one of the most picturesque Crush Rooms to be found in any theatre in London. Mr W. G. R. Sprague, the Architect, has excelled himself, in this, his thirtieth theatre, and from an architectural point of view Sir Charles's New Theatre is the acme of perfection.

 

Programme for ' Hamlet' at the New Theatre in 1935, with John Gielgud and Jessica Tandy.Programme for 'Richard of Bordeaux' at the New Theatre 1934, with John Gielgud.On entering the Auditorium one is immediately struck with the exquisite lines on which the theatre has been designed, a clear and uninterrupted view of the stage being obtained from literally every part of the Theatre, even to the extreme corner seats at the back of the gallery.

Left - A Programme for ' Hamlet' at the New Theatre in 1935, with John Gielgud and Jessica Tandy.

Right - A Programme for 'Richard of Bordeaux' at the New Theatre 1934, with John Gielgud.

The Theatre is constructed on the modern cantilever principle, thus rendering columns of any sort unnecessary. The Theatre is equipped with all modern and scientific appliances. In short, everything that ingenuity and experience can accomplish has been done.

 

John Gielgud and Jessica Tandy in Hamlet at the New Theatre in 1935.Perhaps the most noteworthy feature of the Theatre is the exquisite treatment of decoration, which is of the period of Louis XVI and has been adhered to, even down to the minutest details, throughout.

The prominent colours are white and gold, relieved by curtains and hangings of Rose du Barri brocade and antique velvet.

The seats in the Stalls and Dress Circle are exceptionally beautiful being upholstered in Aubusson tapestry. Over the Proscenium will be seen a perfectly modelled gilt trophy emblematic of Peace and Music, while on either side are models of Cupids, illustrating Winter and Summer, copied from bronzes in the collections of Mr Claude Ponsonby.

The panels in the Auditorium are decorated with beautiful portrait medallions of the French Kings and Queens.'

Add from the Hamlet programme advertising a play at Charles Wyndham's other Theatre, The Wyndham's.The above text in quotes is from the New Theatre opening night souvenir Programme of 1903.

Right - John Gielgud and Jessica Tandy in Hamlet at the New Theatre in 1935.

Left - An Advertisement from the Hamlet Programme advertising a play at Charles Wyndham's other Theatre, The Wyndham's.

 

The New Theatre had a change of name to The Albery Theatre on the 1st of January 1973 and the auditorium levels were renamed at the same time, to: Stalls, Royal Circle, Grand Circle, and Balcony (See seating plan below).

A  beautifully drawn Mid 1920s Seating Plan for the Albery Theatre

Above - A beautifully drawn Mid 1920s Seating Plan for the Albery Theatre

The Albery Theatre had another change of name in May 2006, this time to the Noel Coward Theatre, when Delfont Mackintosh Theatres bought the Theatre. You may like to visit their own website here.

St. Martin's Lane and the the Noel Coward Theatre during the run of 'Avenue Q' in October 2006 - Photo M.L.

Above - St. Martin's Lane and the the Noel Coward Theatre during the run of 'Avenue Q' in October 2006 - Photo M.L.

 

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