Wyndham's Theatre, Charing Cross Road, London, WC2
Above - Wyndham's Theatre during the run of 'A Voyage Around My Father' in October 2006.
The Wyndham's Theatre opened on Thursday the 16th of November 1899 with the play 'David Garrick' by T. W. Robertson. Sir Charles Wyndham himself played David Garrick, and Mary Moore, his future wife, played Ada Ingot. The Theatre was designed for Charles Wyndham by the well known Theatre Architect W G R Sprague.
When Wyndham bought the land to build Wyndham's Theatre he also acquired the land to the rear of it which he had originally intended to sell on. However, the 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, which was only the second Theatre 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 being built on St. Martin's lane during the building of the New but it didn't open until 1904.
Left - A Portrait of Sir Charles Wyndham - From Players Past and Present - A set of 25 cigarette cards depicting Theatre Stars of the Day - Issued by John Player & Sons in 1916. The text of the card reads: - '[Charles Wyndham] was born in 1837 and was originally intended for the medical profession. He served in the Federal Army during the early part of the American Civil War, returning to England in 1865, when he began his stage career, which was one of conspicuous success. No name stood higher on the roll of histrionic fame, and the knighthood which came to him in 1902, was the fitting climax to his many years of good work. He has played his famous part of "David Garrick" in several European capitals, accompanied by Miss Mary Moore (now Lady Wyndham) as "Ada Ingot"' - See the rest of this set of cards here.
Above - The Opening Night production of 'David Garrick' at Wyndham's Theatre on the 16th of November 1899. Here the National Anthem is being played by the Guard's Band as the Curtain is Falling - From the biography of Charles Wyndham by T. Edgar Pemberton, published in 1904, which can be read in full here.
The Wyndham's Theatre auditorium was built on four levels, Stalls, Royal Circle, Grand Circle, and Balcony, and was decorated in the Louis XVI style. In the 1970's the fine ceiling, (See text below) was restored to its former glory.
Right - A Programme for 'Chance, The Idol' at the Wyndham's Theatre on September 9th 1902.
Far Right - A Programme for 'Tyranny of Tears' at the Wyndham's Theatre on January 29th 1902.
On the opening of the Wyndham's Theatre the ERA published a review of the Theatre in their 18th November 1899 edition saying:- 'The house is not very large, being built on a site of only 7000 square feet.
The reserved portion includes twelve private boxes, 157 stalls, 160 dress circle and 180 family circle seats. The pit is small, but particularly good, and the gallery is large and admirably planned.
Right - A Programme for 'Betsy' at the Wyndham's Theatre on July 17th 1902.
Far Right - A Programme for 'Mrs. Gorringe's Necklace' at the Wyndham's Theatre in 1902.
The theatre being isolated, the exits from the various parts of the house are many and direct.
In addition to the staircases, which to the dress circle and balcony are of white marble, there is a lift which runs to each floor and to the roof, where, if the L.C.C. will permit, Mr Wyndham proposes to have a Winter Garden...
Above - A 1920s Seating Plan for Wyndham's Theatre
...The stage, in common with that of the Criterion Theatre, is flat, but it is some 6 ft wider and 10 ft deeper.
Left - A Programme detail for 'The Finishing School' at the Wyndham's Theatre June 16th 1904. The Music Director for this production was Ernest Bucalossi who wrote the famous light orchestral piece 'The Grasshopper's Dance'.
The scheme of decoration is that of the Louis XVI period, and the colours used are turquoise blue and cream, relieved by judicious gilding.
The proscenium is set in cream and gold bordering, which is continued along the front of the stage, thus hiding the footlights, and forming a complete frame. At the top are allegorical figures, and portraits of Sheridan and Goldsmith.
The ceiling of the auditorium contains paintings after Boucher, which are illuminated by a ring of concealed electric lights and a central sunlight covered by a crystal pendant and surrounded by eight smaller lights. Round the dress and family circle there are clusters of electric lights, tempered by cream silk shades. The vestibule is decorated in 'old rose'.'
The Building News and Engineering Journal reported on the opening of the Wyndham's Theatre in their 17th of November 1899 edition saying:- 'Wyndham's Theatre, built from plans by Mr. W. G. R. Sprague on an isolated site in Charing Cross-road and St. Martin's-court, was opened yesterday (Thursday).
Right - A Programme for 'Man Proposes' at the Wyndham's Theatre on November 29th 1933.
It is faced with Portland stone on every side, and is Modern Renaissance in style; the frontage to the main road is 84ft. The chief entrance leads into a circular crush-room and descends a marble staircase to the seats, of which there will be over 200. By ascending another marble staircase the dress circle is reached, and here there is accommodation for some 150 persons.
The width of the auditorium is about 54ft., and the same distance separates the back wall of the pit from the curtain-line. The decoration of the interior has been carried out in the Louis XVI. style, the upholstery being pale blue in tint. There are a dozen boxes. The refreshment-bars are conveniently placed, and as the cantilever system has been adopted there are no pillars to obstruct the view from any corner. The proscenium, which is a "floating frame," like that at the Haymarket, has an opening of 26ft. It is surmounted by a moulding, in which have been designed figures holding medallion portraits of Goldsmith and Sheridan.
Left - A Programme for 'George and Margaret' at the Wyndham's Theatre in 1937 which ran for 799 performances.
The stage is 30ft. deep and 62ft. wide, and has a height to the grid of 50ft., which will enable all scenery to be lifted, thus obviating damage by rolling. There are two new features in this house. The first is the roof garden, which is an iron framework erected between the proscenium wall and the main frontage. This will be used as a lounge, and has a platform upon it. The "garden" is 54ft. wide and 44 ft. long. The second novelty is the lift, which will run from the entrance to the stalls to the glass house on the roof.'
The above text in quotes was first published in the Building News and Engineering Journal, 17th of November 1899.
Right - A Programme for 'The Maitlands' at the Wyndham's Theatre November 29th 1933 which was the second and sadly the last play by Ronald Mackenzie.
Left - A Programme for 'Sweet Aloes' at the Wyndham's Theatre in 1934 which ran for 476 performances.
The Wyndham's Theatre is currently owned and run by Delfont Mackintosh Theatres whose own website for the Theatre 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 information was supplied by Stephen Wischhusen, House Manager for Donald Albery at the Wyndham's Theatre in the 1970's.
If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me.
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