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St. Martin's Theatre, West Street, London WC2

The St. Martin's Theatre during the 54th year of 'The Moustrap" in 2006. - Photo M.L.

Above - The St. Martin's Theatre during the 54th year of 'The Moustrap" in 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 St. Martin's Theatre opened on the 23rd of November 1916 with a production of 'Houp La!' by Fred Thompson, with Gertie Millar and George Graves, and under the direction of Charles B. Cochran who was the Lessee of the building on its opening.

A Programme for 'Plan For A Hostess' by Thomas Browne at the St. Martin's Theatre in 1938 - Kindly donated by Clive Crayfourd.The Architectural Review wrote on the Theatre's opening:- 'This building shows a change that has slowly been taking place during recent years. Its interior, instead of revelling in a lavish display of modelled plaster work, tricked out with gold leaf and paint, has an intimate, almost domestic character.

Left - A Programme for 'Plan For A Hostess' by Thomas Browne at the St. Martin's Theatre in 1938 - Kindly donated by Clive Crayfourd. The cast included Yvonne Arnaud, Ronald Squire, Jacqueline Squire, Jack Brown, Adrianne Allen, William Douglas Home, and Patricia McGrath. The show ran for 161 performances.

Programme for 'Penny Plain' with Joyce Grenfell, Elisabeth Welch, and Max Adrian at the St. Martin's Theatre in 1951. In general style it tends to be what is known as English Georgian and gives one the impression of being a private theatre provided by some patron of the dramatic arts for the entertainment of his guests.

Right - A Programme for 'Penny Plain' with Joyce Grenfell, Elisabeth Welch, and Max Adrian at the St. Martin's Theatre in 1951 - Courtesy Jean Lloyd - Part of a collection of programmes from my parents' Theatre visits in their first years of marriage.

The facade comprises a range of columns standing on a plain base and entablature and parapet. On this cornice, at the centre, is a large bronzed cartouche with flags grouped around, and on either side are vases. The proscenium and flanking walls of the auditorium are panelled their full height in Italian walnut with a range of columns and pilasters on either side, with gilded capitals and bases, carrying a bold entablature which is continued across the proscenium.'

The above text in quotes is from 'The Architectural Review' of 1916.


Early Programme for 'The Mousetrap' at the Ambassadors Theatre with Richard Attenborough still in the cast, although his wife, Sheila Sim, was no longer in the play. - Click to see the Entire Programme.The original plan was to build two theatres side by side at the same time, The Ambassadors and St. Martin's, but the war caused the building of the second Theatre, St. Martins, to be delayed until 1916. Both Theatres were designed by the well known Theatre Architect W. G. R. Sprague.

The world's longest running play 'The Mousetrap' by Agatha Christie, started its run at the Ambassadors Theatre next door to St. Martin's on the 25 November 1952, with Richard Attenborough and his wife Sheila Sim in the lead roles, before moving to St. Martins Theatre in 1974 where it is still going strong today. In November 2012 the production celebrated its 60th year in the West End.

Left - An early Programme for 'The Mousetrap' at the Ambassadors Theatre with Richard Attenborough still in the cast, although his wife, Sheila Sim, was no longer in the play. - Click to see the Entire Programme.

A Gala performance for the play's 25,000th performance was staged at the Theatre in aid of 'Mousetrap Theatre Projects' and consisted of a performance in costume by celebrity guests who acted the play but read from the script. The gala cast included Hugh Bonneville, Miranda Hart, Patrick Stewart, Julie Walters, Harry Lloyd, Iain Glen, Tamsin Greig, and Nicholas Farrell, who had less than 24 hours to learn the play and memorise the stage directions. To celebrate its 60 year run the play also began its first ever tour in September 2012 for a projected 60 week run.

 

 A Seating Plan for St. Martin's Theatre, probably 1920s

Above - A Seating Plan for St. Martin's Theatre, probably 1920s

The St. Martin's Theatre has recently been refurbished inside and out. You may like to visit the Theatre's own website here.

 

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