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The Prince Edward Theatre, Old Compton Street, Soho, London, W1

Formerly - The Radio Theatre / The London Casino / Queensberry All-Services Club / The Casino Cinerama Theatre / Casino Cinema

The Prince Edward Theatre during production for Cameron Mackintosh's revival of 'Miss Saigon in April 2014 - Photo M.L.

Above - The Prince Edward Theatre during production for Cameron Mackintosh's revival of 'Miss Saigon in April 2014. The show opens in May 2014 but was first staged at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1989 and went on to run for 10 years. The revival at the Prince Edward took £4.4 million on its first day on sale which was a new record for the West End.

 

 

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 Prince Edward Theatre, named after the then Prince of Wales, opened on the 3rd of April 1930 with a musical called 'Rio Rita' by Harry Tierney. The Theatre was designed by Edward A. Stone and has a similar facade to the Streatham Astoria, also designed by Stone in the same year. The Prince Edward Theatre was constructed by Griggs & Son on a site which was formerly home to a one hundred year old business known as 'The Emporium', which was a large drapers shop.

The Prince Edward was the first Theatre to be built in London's West End in 1930 and was one of many which would open there the same year. The First was, as already mentioned, the Prince Edward on April the 3rd, then the Cambridge Theatre opened on the 4th of September, then the Phoenix on the 24th of September, and the Whitehall on the 29th of September. Then came the rebuilt Adelphi Theatre on 3rd of December, and finally the Leicester Square Theatre which opened on December the 19th. Quite a flurry of Theatre building for one year in the 1930s.

 

Pantomime Programme for 'Humpty Dumpty' at The London Casino in the 1940s.The exterior of the Prince Edward Theatre was designed in the style of an Italian Palace, and its foyer in the Art Deco style. Its auditorium, designed by Marc-Henri & Laverdet, was built on three levels, Stalls, Dress, and Grand Circles with seven boxes, and could seat 1,650 in comfort. The Theatre was also equipped for showing films. The Theatre's opening production however, was not a great success, 'Rio Rita' closed after only 59 performances, and later productions such as 'Nippy,' which ran for just 137 performances, and 'Fanfare' which ran for only three weeks, were not received well, even the famous Josephine Baker failed to make much impression in her London Debut at the Theatre. The Theatre was renamed the Radio Theatre for a brief period between 1935 and 1936 and then in 1936 it was bought by new owners for £25,000 and turned into a cabaret restaurant called the London Casino.

Right - A Pantomime Programme for 'Humpty Dumpty' at The London Casino in the 1940s.

Programme for 'Latin Quarter' at The London Casino in 1951.This new venture saw the stage converted into a semi circular dance floor, the understage converted to Kitchens, and the auditorium altered so that the Dress Circle could be reached from the stalls by stairs, as is common in Theatre conversions today. The building reopened on the 2nd of April 1936 as The London Casino and this was a great success.

The Theatre was 'Dark' for two years after the war began but in 1942 it became a 'Forces Theatre' called the Queensberry All-Services Club, and shows were put on for Radio Broadcasts.

Left - A Programme for 'Latin Quarter' at The London Casino in 1951.

The war over, in 1946 the building was converted back to a Theatre again, still with the London Casino name, and with some structural alterations it became home to mostly Variety productions including, in 1951, Robert Nesbit's 'Latin Quarter' (shown left and below), and annual Christmas Pantomimes put on by Emile Littler.

 

Programme detail for 'Latin Quarter' at The London Casino in 1951.

Above - Programme detail for 'Latin Quarter' at The London Casino in 1951.

 

In 1954 the Theatre was converted into a cinema, housing London's first Cinerama screen, a giant curved screen of 64 feet, and was renamed The Casino Cinerama Theatre.

The Casino Cinerama Theatre during its second year as a Cinema in 1955 - Courtesy Allan Hailstone

Above - The Casino Cinerama Theatre during its second year as a Cinema in 1955 - Courtesy Allan Hailstone

The Casino Cinerama Theatre during its second year as a Cinema in 1955 - Courtesy Allan Hailstone

Above - The Casino Cinerama Theatre during its second year as a Cinema in 1955 - Courtesy Allan Hailstone

 

Pantomime Programme for 'Mother Goose' at The London Casino in the 1940s.In 1974 Bernard Delfont took over the Theatre and the London Casino was reborn again as a Theatre and Cinema, with a conventional screen, at a cost of £150,000. The new Theatre opened with a production of the Pantomime, 'Cinderella, at Christmas of the same year.

Pantomime Programme for 'Cinderella' at The London Casino in the 1940s.Right - A Pantomime Programme for 'Mother Goose' at The London Casino in the 1940s.

Left - A Pantomime Programme for 'Cinderella' at The London Casino in the 1940s.

In 1976 a musical about the actor James Dean was staged at the Theatre. The troubled production, with words and music by Robert Campbell, was called 'Dean' but was not a success, although it was re-staged in Japan several times in the 1980s.

In 1978 the building had some refurbishment work done and was converted back into a proper Theatre again, and renamed back to its original name of the Prince Edward Theatre. The first production at the newly opened Prince Edward was the phenomenally successful 'Evita,' which opened on the 21st of June and ran for nearly eight years.

 

A 1970s Seating Plan for the Prince Edward Theatre

Above - A 1970s Seating Plan for the Prince Edward Theatre

 

The 1992 Refurbishment of the Prince Edward Theatre

In 1992 The Prince Edward was given a total makeover when Bernard Delfont and Cameron Mackintosh spent over £3.3 million refurbishing the Theatre. This was achieved by the architect Nick Thompson and designer and colourist Clare Ferraby who were both working on behalf of the practice of Renton Howard Wood Levin. Andre Tammes of the Lighting Design Partnership was responsible for the exterior and interior lighting of the Theatre.

Work on the refurbishment began on the 7th of September 1992 and was completed on Christmas Eve. The works included lowering the anti-proscenium by two metres and adding a concealed lighting bridge within it, adding acoustic paneling to the auditorium, enlarging the stage, recarpeting the auditorium, enlarging the bars, increasing toilet facilities, reconfiguring the stalls seating and retiering the circle seating. Six new boxes were added to the auditorium and parts of the ceiling were lowered, and the stalls walls were brought in to 'create a more intimate atmosphere'. At the same time the decorative lighting on the Grand and Dress Circle tiers was reinstated.

The newly refurbished auditorium of the Prince Edward Theatre in 1993 - From a press handout by Delfont Mackintosh Theatres LTD.

Above - The newly refurbished auditorium of the Prince Edward Theatre in 1993 - From a press handout by Delfont Mackintosh Theatres LTD.

The Prince Edward Theatre during the run of 'Mary Poppins' in October 2006. - Photo M.L.The exterior of the Theatre was also partially redesigned in the 1992 refurbishment and a new canopy was added.

The Theatre reopened on the 3rd of March 1993 with a successful production of 'Crazy for You.' Following this 'Martin Guerre opened in 1996, and then this was followed by a five year run of the hit musical, 'Mamma Mia' before it transferred to the Prince Of Wales Theatre in June 2004.

Right - The Prince Edward Theatre during the run of 'Mary Poppins' in October 2006. - Photo M.L.

More refurbishment of the Theatre took place before the opening of 'Mary Poppins' which included improving the bar areas, front of house, and the dressing rooms.

 

The Prince Edward Theatre in February 2008, during production for the Tony Award winning Broadway musical 'Jersey Boys' which opened at the Theatre on the 18th of March 2008 - Photo M.L.The Theatre became home to the hit musical 'Jersey Boys' in 2008, which ran until Spring 2014 when it transfered to the Piccadilly Theatre. The Prince Edward Theatre will be staging Cameron Mackintosh's revival of 'Miss Saigon from May 2014. The show was first staged at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1989 and went on to run for 10 years. The revival at the Prince Edward took £4.4 million on its first day on sale which was a new record for the West End.

Left - The Prince Edward Theatre in February 2008, during production for the Tony Award winning Broadway musical 'Jersey Boys' which opened at the Theatre on the 18th of March 2008 - Photo M.L.

The Prince Edward Theatre is currently owned and run by Delfont Mackintosh Theatres

 

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