Home Page
The Music Hall and Theatre History Website

 

Home - Index - Forum - Contact

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Shaftesbury Theatre, 210 Shaftesbury Avenue, London

Formerly - The New Princes Theatre / Princes Theatre

See also - The Original Shaftesbury Theatre

 

The Shaftesbury Theatre during the run of 'Memphis The Musical' in October 2014 - Photo M. L.

Above - The Shaftesbury Theatre during the run of 'Memphis The Musical' 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.co.ukSee London's West End TheatresSee Theatreland MapsThe present day Shaftesbury Theatre, at 210 Shaftesbury Avenue, Holborn, originally opened as the New Princes Theatre on the 26th December 1911 with a production of 'The Three Musketeers. The Theatre was designed by the well known Theatre Architect Bertie Crewe, and on its opening had a capacity of 2,392 and a stage 31' 10" wide by 31' deep. The Princes Theatre, now the Shaftesbury, was the last Theatre to be opened on Shaftesbury Avenue and should not be confused with the earlier, and now demolished, original Shaftesbury Theatre furthur down the road, see details here.

 

A Programme for 'Woman and Wine' at the New Princes Theatre 1912, see inside the programme below.A few days before the Theatre opened the ERA reported on the new building in their 23rd of December 1911 edition saying:- 'The new house has three frontages, which enable the house to be cleared in a few minutes. Externally an example of Modern Renaissance, internally the house is eclectical French in its decorations. Above the main entrance, at the corner, rises an elegant tower. The interior decoration is in cream and gold, with side panels in autumnal tints, and groups of statuary over the boxes. The saucer-domed ceiling is ornamented with symbolic groups representing 'The Light of the World,' 'Endeavour,' 'Love,' 'The Crowning Success,' and 'The Torch of Destiny,' and four life-size groups which surmount the boxes are emblematic of Comedy, Tragedy, Poetry, and Music.

Right - A Programme for 'Woman and Wine' at the New Princes Theatre 1912, see inside the programme below.

The ten boxes are parted by Ionic columns, with figured drums fluted and enriched; and bas-relief groups adorn the proscenium arch. The crimson velvet of the upholstery goes well with the rose and white marbles, the alabaster, and the gold mosaic of the walls. The New Princes is a two-tier theatre, and each tier has its own saloon adorned with oak panelling, wrought iron fittings and tapestries. The Stalls saloon is Elizabethan, the circle saloon Jacobean. A central ring of electric lights is suspended from the ceiling of the auditorium, supplemented by four large wrought brass chandeliers. The arrangements for heating and ventilating by the 'Plenum' system of forced air will ensure a gradual change of atmosphere six times an hour.'

The above text in quotes was first published in The ERA 23rd December, 1911.

 

The Princes Theatre, later to become the Shaftesbury Theatre, during the run of 'Wonderful Town' in 1955.

Above - The Princes Theatre, later to become the Shaftesbury Theatre,`during the run of 'Wonderful Town' in 1955.

 

Details from a Programme for 'Woman and Wine' at the New Princes Theatre in 1912

Above - Details from a Programme for 'Woman and Wine' at the New Princes Theatre in 1912

The Shaftesbury Theatre in September 2005 during the run of 'Far Pavilions.' Photo M.L.The Theatre had the 'New' removed from its name in 1914 and became simply the Princes Theatre. There is more on the Princes Theatre period below.

The Theatre was renamed again in 1963 to the Shaftesbury Theatre which it still is today (not to be confused with the original Shaftesbury Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue.)

In 1973 during the very successful run of 'Hair' part of the ceiling collapsed overnight and forced closure of the show and the Theatre itself. The Theatre looked like it was to be closed for good and demolished but thankfully it was saved by Listing and the endeavors of the Save London's Theatres Campaign who fought long and hard for its survival.

Left - The Shaftesbury Theatre in September 2005 during the run of 'Far Pavilions.' Photo M.L.

The Shaftesbury Theatre is a Grade II Listed Building and is currently owned and run by DLT Entertainment Ltd. You may like to visit the Theatre's own website here.

 

A 1970s Seating Plan for the Shaftesbury Theatre

A 1970s Seating Plan for the Shaftesbury Theatre

Above - A 1970s Seating Plan for the Shaftesbury Theatre

 

The Romance of London Theatres
By Ronald Mayes
No. 42. The Princes'

The Romance of London TheatresTHE New Princes' Theatre was opened as recently as 1911. The proprietors, the brothers Walter and Frederick Melville opened it with a revival of "The Three Musketeers," which had been transferred from the Lyceum. The theatre is situated in a very convenient position in Shaftesbury Avenue, near the new Oxford Street end, and is the theatre which suffered in the great gas explosions which took place recently in the district. During the early days the theatre appears to have been closed for a number of varying periods.

Despite the fact that the house is very modern, it has been made famous by its productions, and especially for the season of Gilbert and Sullivan operas.

In the autumn of 1919, during an eighteen weeks' season, nearly every Gilbert and Sullivan opera was played at this theatre. The house has nearly twice the seating capacity of the Savoy theatre, the cradle of the Savoy Opera, and immediately the season was announced, £30,000 poured into the box office for advance bookings. The productions given during the season were entirely redressed from new designs. Rutland Barrington and Jessie Bond, of the old company, who had come to the Princes' to view the performances, were quickly recognised in their boxes by many of the audience.

Seymour Hicks was the lessee of the house in 1917, and produced, with Ellaline Teriss, "Good News," a comedy at which France had laughed for over a year. Shortly afterwards Charles B. Cochran staged "Columbine," by Compton Mackenzie, the play being founded on his novel "Carnival."

In 1920 "The Man who Came Back" was transferred from the Oxford to this theatre, and ran for 106 performances. The following year, prior to another D'Oyly Carte season, "The Knave of Diamonds" ran successfully for 185 performances.

 

Early Programme for the Pantomime 'Cinderella' with Stanley Lupino as 'Buttons' at the Princes Theatre.Programme for 'Pal Joey' with Richard France and Arthur Lowe at the Princes Theatre in 1954.The next season of Savoy Operas, which commenced in October 1921, ran on and concluded on April the 8th the following year. Once again the old popular favourites were given and received with tremendous enthusiasm. Late in 1922 a Guitry season of French plays was given.

Left - Early Programme for the Pantomime 'Cinderella' with Stanley Lupino as 'Buttons' at the Princes Theatre.

Right - Programme for 'Pal Joey' with Richard France and Arthur Lowe at the Princes Theatre in 1954.

Towards the end of 1923, "The Return of Sherlock Holmes" commenced, and ran for 130 performances, and this was followed by another season of Savoy operas.

"White Cargo," one of the principal plays of 1925, was transferred from the Fortune Theatre to the Princes. Franklyn Dyall was the actor who made this play famous. It aroused much comment at the time, but, nevertheless caught hold of and held the public imagination.

1926 saw yet another successful season of D'Oyly Carte. In 1928, the most popular production was "Funny Face," a musical comedy presented by Lee Ephraim which has drawn all London, and Leslie Hanson has been provided with one of his funniest parts. He is well supported by the clever dancing of Fred and Adele Astaire. After running for many successful months at the Princes', it has now been transferred to the Winter Garden.

The above text on The Romance of London Theatre By Ronald Mayes is from a Programme for the Lewisham Hippodrome.

 

Some Photographs of the Shaftesbury Theatre during various productions

The Shaftesbury Theatre in 2005 - Photo M.L. 05

Above - The Shaftesbury Theatre during the run of 'High Society' in 2005 - Photo M.L. 05.

The Shaftesbury Theatre during the run of 'Hairspray' in November 2007 - Photo M.L.

Above - The Shaftesbury Theatre during the run of 'Hairspray' in November 2007 - Photo M.L.

The Shaftesbury Theatre during production work on the musical 'Rock of Ages' in August 2011 - Photo M.L.

Above - The Shaftesbury Theatre during production work on the musical 'Rock of Ages' in August 2011.

The Shaftesbury Theatre during production for the musical 'Pajama Game' in April 2014 - Photo M. L.

Above - The Shaftesbury Theatre during production for the musical 'Pajama Game' in April 2014 - 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