The Vaudeville Theatre is a West End theatre on the Strand in the City of Westminster. As the name suggests, the theatre held mostly vaudeville shows and musical revues in its early days. It opened in 1870 and was rebuilt twice, although each new building retained elements of the previous structure. The current building opened in 1926, and the capacity is now 690 seats. Rare thunder drum and lightning sheets, together with other early stage mechanisms, survive in the theatre.
The Vaudeville Theatre in 2014
|Public transit|| Charing Cross|
|Type||West End theatre|
|Capacity||690 on 3 levels|
|Opened||16 April 1870|
|Rebuilt||1882 (C. J. Phipps)|
1926 (Robert Atkinson)
|Architect||C. J. Phipps|
The theatre was designed by prolific architect C. J. Phipps, and decorated in a Romanesque style by George Gordon. It opened on 16 April 1870 with Andrew Halliday's comedy, For Love Or Money and a burlesque, Don Carlos or the Infante in Arms. A notable innovation was the concealed footlights, which would shut off if the glass in front of them was broken. The owner, William Wybrow Robertson, had run a failing billiard hall on the site but saw more opportunity in theatre. He leased the new theatre to three actors, Thomas Thorne, David James, and H.J. Montague. The original theatre stood behind two houses on the Strand, and the entrance was through a labyrinth of small corridors. It had a seating capacity of 1,046, rising in a horseshoe over a pit and three galleries. The cramped site meant that facilities front and backstage were limited.
The great Shakespearean actor, Henry Irving, had his first conspicuous success as Digby Grant in James Albery's Two Roses at the Vaudeville in 1870. It held the theatre for what was at the time an extraordinarily successful run of 300 nights. The first theatre piece in the world to achieve 500 consecutive performances was the comedy Our Boys by H. J. Byron, which started its run at the Vaudeville in 1875. The production went on to surpass the 1,000 performance mark. This was such a rare event that London bus conductors approaching the Vaudeville Theatre stop shouted "Our Boys!" instead of the name of the theatre.
In 1882, Thomas Thorne became the sole lessee, and in 1889 he demolished the houses to create a foyer block in the Adamesque style, behind a Portland stone facade on the Strand. He again used architect C.J. Phipps. The theatre was refurbished to have more spacious seating and an ornate ceiling. It reopened on 13 January 1891 with a performance of Jerome K. Jerome's comedy, Woodbarrow Farm, preceded by Herbert Keith's one-act play The Note of Hand. This foyer is preserved today, as is the four-storey frontage. Dramatist W. S. Gilbert presented one of his later plays here, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (1891), a burlesque "in Three Short 'Tableaux'". (He had published it in 1874 in Fun magazine). Also in 1891, Elizabeth Robins and Marion Lea directed and starred in Ibsen's Hedda Gabler at the theatre, and his Rosmersholm had its London premiere here.
In 1892, Thorne passed the lease to restaurateurs Agostino and Stefano Gatti, who since 1878 had held the lease of the nearby Adelphi Theatre. The first production at the new theatre was a revival of Our Boys. The lease briefly passed into the hands of Weedon Grossmith in 1894, but was back with the Gattis in 1896. The theatre became known for a series of successful musical comedies. The French Maid, by Basil Hood, with music by Walter Slaughter, first played in London at Terry's Theatre under the management of W.H. Griffiths beginning in 1897 but transferred to the Vaudeville in early 1898, running for a very successful total of 480 London performances. The piece starred Louie Pounds. Seymour Hicks and his wife Ellaline Terriss starred in a series of Christmas entertainments here, including their popular Bluebell in Fairyland (1901). The foyer of the theatre had become infamous as the site of an argument in 1897 between Richard Archer Prince and Terriss's father, actor William Terriss. Soon after that argument, the deranged Prince stabbed William Terriss to death at the stage door of the Adelphi Theatre. Prince was a struggling young actor whom Terriss had tried to help.
Hicks and Terriss also starred here in Quality Street, a comedy by J. M. Barrie, which opened at the Vaudeville in 1902 and ran for 459 performances. It had first played in New York in 1901 but ran there for only 64 performances. This was one of the first American productions to score a bigger triumph in London. This was followed by the 1903 musical The Cherry Girl by Hicks, with music by Ivan Caryll, starring Hicks, Terriss and Courtice Pounds. In 1904, Hicks scored an even bigger hit with the musical, The Catch of the Season, written by Hicks and Cosmo Hamilton, based on the fairy tale Cinderella. It had a very long run of 621 performances, starring Hicks, Zena Dare (who created the role of Angela when Ellaline Terriss's pregnancy forced her to withdraw. Dare was later replaced by Terriss and then by Dare's sister, Phyllis Dare) and Louie Pounds.
John Maria and Rocco Gatti took over management of the Vaudeville in 1905. In 1906, the theatre hosted the very successful The Belle of Mayfair, a musical composed by Leslie Stuart with a book by Basil Hood, Charles Brookfield and Cosmo Hamilton, produced by Hicks' partner, Charles Frohman. It ran for 431 performances and starred Edna May, Louie and her brother Courtice Pounds, and Camille Clifford. In 1910, an English adaptation of The Girl in the Train (Die geschiedene Frau – literally, "The Divorcee"), a 1908 Viennese operetta by Leo Fall, opened at the Vaudeville. It was produced by George Edwardes, with lyrics by Adrian Ross and starred Robert Evett, Phyllis Dare and Rutland Barrington. In 1911, William Greet produced Baby Mine at the theatre. Betty Bolton made her debut in 1916, at the age of 10, in a revue called Some, at the theatre. During and after World War I, audiences sought light entertainment, and musical revues held the Vaudeville stage, including Cheep (1917), the long-running Just Fancy (1920) and Rats (1923), another popular revue. Albert Ketèlbey was one of the theatre's music directors.
The theatre closed on 7 November 1925, when the interior was completely reconstructed to designs by Robert Atkinson. The auditorium was changed from a horseshoe shape to the current rectangle shape, and the seating capacity reduced to just over 700. A new dressing room block with an ornate boardroom extended the site to Maiden Lane. The theatre reopened on 23 February 1926, with a popular revue by Archie de Bear called R.S.V.P., notable because its final rehearsal was broadcast by the BBC. The theatre then hosted William Somerset Maugham's comedy, The Bread-Winner in 1930. After World War II, the theatre presented William Douglas Home's play, The Chiltern Hundreds, which ran for 651 performances. The record-setting musical Salad Days, composed by Julian Slade with lyrics by Dorothy Reynolds and Slade, premiered at the Bristol Old Vic in 1954 but soon transferred to the Vaudeville, enjoying the longest run of any theatrical work up to that point in history. Another notable production at the theatre was Arnold Wesker's 1959 play, Chips with Everything.
A proposed redevelopment of Covent Garden by the GLC in 1968 saw the theatre under threat, together with the nearby Adelphi, Garrick, Lyceum and Duchess theatres. An active campaign by Equity, the Musicians' Union and theatre owners under the auspices of the Save London Theatres Campaign led to the abandonment of the scheme.
Cicely Courtneidge played at the theatre in The Bride Comes Back (1960) and Ray Cooney's Move Over Mrs. Markham (1971). Bill Treacher made his West End debut in 1963 in the comedy Shout for Life at the Vaudeville. In 1966, the theatre hosted Arsenic and Old Lace, starring Sybil Thorndike and her husband Lewis Casson. Brigid Brophy's The Burglar premiered at the theatre in 1967, and Joyce Rayburn's comedy, The Man Most Likely To..., starring Leslie Phillips, opened initially at the Vaudeville in 1968 and went on to run for over 1,000 performances in London.
In 1969, the Gatti family sold their interest in the theatre to Sir Peter Saunders, and in 1970 he commissioned Peter Rice to redesign the interior. Among other changes were a deep red wallpaper in the auditorium and more comfortable seats. Also, the loggia above the street was glazed to make the balcony an extension of the bar. The backstage lighting was rerigged, and a forestage lift and counterweight flying system were installed. The theatre achieved some protection in 1972 when it was Grade II listed. In 1983, ownership passed to Michael Codron and David Sutton. Stephen Waley-Cohen took ownership in 1996, passing it to Max Weitzenhofer in 2002.
Meanwhile, drama was added to the standard bill of fare at the theatre. Hugh Paddick starred in the Joyce Rayburn farce Out on a Limb at the theatre in 1976, Noël Coward's Present Laughter with Donald Sinden in the lead was revived in 1981 and Patrick Cargill and Moira Lister co-starred in the farce Key for Two in 1982. Noël Coward's Blithe Spirit was revived at the theatre in 1986, and Willy Russell's play Shirley Valentine played in 1988, starring Pauline Collins. In 1990, Simon Gray's play Hidden Laughter was produced at the theatre, followed by Kander and Ebb's 1991 musical, 70, Girls, 70, starring Dora Bryan.
A 1996 revival of Salad Days, starring the duo Kit and The Widow, was not successful, but Jean Fergusson's show She Knows You Know!, in which she portrayed the Lancashire comedian Hylda Baker, played at the theatre in 1997 and was nominated for a 1998 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Entertainment. Showtune, a musical revue celebrating the words and music of composer Jerry Herman and conceived by Paul Gilger was given a London production at the Vaudeville in 1998 under its previous title The Best of Times. That same year the theatre housed Kat and the Kings, which won the Olivier for Best New Musical and, in an unusual move, Best Actor in a Musical for its entire cast. Madame Melville, a play by Richard Nelson was presented in 2000. It marked the return of Macaulay Culkin to acting after a six-year hiatus and also starred Irène Jacob and Madeleine Potter. In 2001 Ray Cooney's farce Caught in the Net, starring Russ Abbot and Eric Sykes, had a ten-month run.
The dance/performance art troupe Stomp was in residence at the theatre from 2002 to 2007. Since 2003, the theatre has been owned by Max Weitzenhoffer, and in 2005, the venue was brought under the management of Nimax Theatres Limited.
As minstrel shows shifted towards the development of vaudeville theatre, the comedic and misogynistic “wench” also experienced a shift into more of a serious and creative character, the “prima donna.” By the end of the Prohibition Era, vaudeville shows featured female impersonators as a regular part of their performance, in which further became a new popular trend of public entertainment.
Dennis Anthony John Sharp (16 June 1915 Highgate, London, England – 23 July 1984, London, England) was an English actor, writer and director.Dan Patterson
Dan Patterson is a British television producer and writer, responsible for the production of both the British and American incarnations of the improvisation show Whose Line Is It Anyway? and the British satirical panel show Mock the Week with writing partner Mark Leveson. He has also written for episodes of both shows.
He co-created Whose Line Is It Anyway? alongside Mark Leveson, initially on BBC radio before moving with it to Channel 4, and then onward to ABC. In 2004, he established Angst Productions, which is responsible for Mock the Week.In October 2013, the play The Duck House, a farcical political satire which he wrote alongside Have I Got News for You writer Colin Swash, embarked on a five-week tour before transferring to the Vaudeville Theatre in London's West End through Spring 2014.David James
David James may refer to:
David James (actor, born 1839) (1839–1893), English comic actor and one of the founders of London's Vaudeville Theatre
David James (actor, born 1967) (born 1967), Australian television and film actor; and former presenter of ABC's Play School
David James (actor, born 1972) (born 1972), South African film, theater, and television actor known for playing Koobus Venter in the 2009 film District 9
David James (Australian politician) (died 1926), member of the South Australia House of Assembly
David James (bishop) (born 1945), bishop of Bradford
David James (cell biologist) (born 1958), cell biologist who discovered the glucose transporter GLUT4
David James (cricketer, born 1921) (1921–2002), Welsh cricketer
David James (cricketer, born 1791) (1791–1846), English cricketer
David James (footballer, born 1970), English goalkeeper
David James (footballer, born 1942), Scottish winger
David James (footballer, born 1917), Welsh forward
David James (photographer), professional headshot photographer
David James (American politician) (1843–1921), member of the Wisconsin State Senate
David James (British MP) (1919–1986), British politician and member of the Conservative Party
David James, Baron James of Blackheath (born 1937), British corporate trouble-shooter, former chairman of the Millennium Dome, and author of the Conservative Party's James Report
David James (rugby, born 1866) (1866–1929), Welsh international rugby player
David James (rugby, born 1906) (1906–1981), Welsh rugby union and professional rugby league footballer
David James (rugby, born 1985) (born 1985), Welsh rugby league player
David James (singer), Canadian country music singer
David Gwilym James (1905–1968), vice chancellor of the University of Southampton
Dewi James, Welsh businessman, known in the United States as David James
Dai James (David James, 1899 – after 1929), Welsh footballer with Aberdare Athletic and Brighton & Hove AlbionDavid James (actor, born 1839)
David James (born David Belasco) (1839 – 2 October 1893) was an English comic actor and one of the founders of London's Vaudeville Theatre.
He was born in London to a family of Sephardic Jewish origin. He made his stage debut as a child actor at the Princess's Theatre, London, then managed by Charles Kean. As a young man. he appeared in various burlesques. One of his best roles during that time was as Mercury in Francis Burnand's Ixion, which he performed in its 1863 premiere at the Royalty Theatre.In 1870 he joined Henry James Montague and Thomas Thorne as the first managers of the newly opened Vaudeville Theatre where his greatest success was as Perkyn Middlewick in Henry James Byron's Our Boys which opened on 16 January 1875 and ran for over 1300 performances. He left the Vaudeville Theatre in 1881 to work at the Haymarket Theatre, followed by a stint at the Lyceum Theatre. In 1886, he became a member of Charles Wyndham's company at the Criterion Theatre. Shortly before his death in 1893, Our Boys was revived for him.Unlike Thomas Thorne, his partner at the Vaudeville who died penniless and insane, David James died leaving a fortune of £41,000 (an enormous sum in those days), which went to his synagogue and other Jewish charities. His son was an actor who also performed under the name David James.Herbert Mason
Samuel George Herbert Mason (1891 – 20 May 1960), known as Herbert Mason, was a British film director, producer, stage actor, army officer, presenter of some revues, stage manager, stage director, choreographer, production manager and playwright. He was a recipient of the Military Cross the prestigious award for "gallantry during active operations against the enemy." He received the gallantry award for his part in the Battle of Guillemont where British troops defeated the Germans to take the German stronghold of Guillemont.
Mason began his theatrical career at the age of 16 and appeared in several productions at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre including Barry Jackson's The Christmas Party. During the 1920s he stage managed some of the largest shows in London (including many of André Charlot's musical revues) and began his film career with the arrival of sound in motion pictures. Mason was the Assistant director for I Was a Spy, which was very successful in the box office and voted best film of the year. He made his debut as director in 1936 with The First Offence. His most prominent film was A Window in London a dark thriller set in the London Underground, which was a remake of the original French drama film Metropolitan. Another successful film included Take My Tip, in which he directed Jack Hulbert whose "dances [were] beautifully staged."Several rising actors and actresses (including Vivien Leigh) made their film debuts in some of his films before they rose to prominence. He worked for several studios and production companies including Gaumont British, Gainsborough Pictures, London Films and MGM-British Studios. Mason directed 16 films (from thrillers to comedies), moved into producing for the rest of his career and authored some plays with his wife Daisy Fisher, a novelist and playwright also with a background in theatre.
His films were generally very well received, and some of them were marked out for the inventiveness of the plot, locations used for shooting and humour. Some of his films are remembered for introducing rising actors and actresses to the screen before they became famous.Jean Fergusson
Jean Fergusson (born 30 December 1944 in Wakefield, West Riding of Yorkshire) is a British television and theatre actress, who is best known for playing the part of Marina on the British situation comedy Last of the Summer Wine from 1985 until it was discontinued in 2010, and her role as Dorothy Hoyle in the soap Coronation Street.
In theatre, Fergusson's show She Knows You Know!, in which she portrayed the comedian Hylda Baker, performed at the Vaudeville Theatre, was nominated for a 1998 Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best Entertainment of the 1997 season. and she was part of the cast of the touring play Seven Deadly Sins Four Deadly Sinners. In 2010 she took on the role of Dorothy Hoyle in Coronation Street, having previously played Gary Mallet's mother in 1999 and Dr Lowther's sister-in-law Helen Ashcroft in 1987. She reappeared in 2011, and was part of a large kidnapping storyline involving her husband Alan, John Stape and Chesney Battersby-Brown.John Warner (actor)
John Hickson Warner (1 January 1924 – 19 May 2001) was a British film, television and stage actor whose career spanned more than five decades. His most famous role was that of Timothy Dawes in Salad Days, which premiered in the UK at the Theatre Royal in 1954, and transferred to the Vaudeville Theatre in London in the same year.Kat and the Kings
Kat and the Kings is a musical with a book and lyrics by David Kramer and music by Taliep Petersen.
Set in late-1950s South Africa, it focuses on teenager Kat Diamond, who believes he's the best singer and dancer in District Six, a multi-racial slum in Cape Town. With his friends Ballie, Magoo, Bingo, and Lucy, he forms the a cappella group the Cavalla Kings, and the quintet - emulating the American doo wop and rock and roll they adore - becomes a sensation, graduating from street corners to "whites only" nightclubs (where the dictates of apartheid force them to use the rear entrance) and a recording contract.
The show was inspired by the memories of Salie Daniels, the real-life Kat who appeared as the narrator in the original production. After touring South Africa, the show was invited to the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn in November 1997, and returned to that venue prior to its opening in the West End. Directed by Kramer and choreographed by Loukmaan Adams and Jody Abrahams, it opened on March 23, 1998 at the Vaudeville Theatre, where it ran for slightly more than four months. In addition to Daniels, the cast included Abrahams as the young Kat, Adams as Bingo, Junaid Booysen as Ballie, Alistair Izobel as Magoo, and Mandisa Bardill as Lucy.
Kat and the Kings won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical and, in an unusual move, the entire cast was named Best Actor in a Musical. The show also was nominated for Best Theatre Choreography. An original cast album was recorded live during the June 6, 1998 performance and released by First Night Records.After fifteen previews, the Broadway production opened on August 19, 1999 at the Cort Theatre, where it ran for 157 performances. Terry Hector and Kim Louis replaced Daniels as the elder Kat and Mandisa Bardill as Lucy, respectively, but the remainder of the cast and the director and choreographers were from the London production. It was nominated for Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical (Alistair Izobell), Outstanding Choreography, and Outstanding Orchestrations.L'Arlésienne (short story)
L'Arlésienne is a short story, written by Alphonse Daudet and first published in his collection Letters From My Windmill (Lettres de mon moulin) in 1869.On a commission from Léon Carvalho, the author transformed the story in 1872 into a play in three acts and five tableaux with music and chorus. Georges Bizet wrote incidental music for the play's first production on 1 October 1872, at the Vaudeville Theatre (now the Gaumont).The play was not successful and closed after only 21 performances. The music score was later used for two suites of the same name, the first established by Bizet himself in November 1872, the second after Bizet's 1875 death, by Ernest Guiraud.
Another play was originally scheduled for the night of 1 October 1872, but it was withdrawn by the censors at the last minute and L'Arlésienne was substituted. Many of the patrons were less than happy with this change.Daudet's play formed the basis of the Italian opera L'arlesiana (1897), text by Leopoldo Marenco, music by Francesco Cilea.Madame Melville
Madame Melville is a play by Richard Nelson. It is set in Paris in 1966 and is about an American student, Carl, who finds himself alone in the flat of Claudie, one of his teachers. They find there is much to discover - about art, life, love, each other and themselves.When produced in London in 2000 at the Vaudeville Theatre, it marked the return of Macaulay Culkin to acting after a six-year hiatus. It also starred Irene Jacob as Claudie and Madeleine Potter as Ruth.Nimax Theatres
Nimax Theatres Ltd. is a theatre group owned and operated by Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer. In July 2005, Weitzenhoffer and Burns announced they were forming Nimax to buy four of London’s playhouses from Andrew Lloyd Webber, namely the Apollo Theatre, Garrick Theatre, Duchess Theatre and Lyric Theatre, taking control the following October. Additionally, Weitzenhoffer had already owned the Vaudeville Theatre since January 2001; it was transferred in September 2005 to the newly formed company.
In April 2012, Nimax purchased the Palace Theatre from Lloyd Webber.No Medals
No Medals is a play by the British writer Esther McCracken first staged in 1944. Its West End run at the Vaudeville Theatre lasted for 740 performances between 4 October 1944 and 19 July 1946. It depicts the struggles of a middle-class British housewife during the war years. The original cast included Fay Compton and Frederick Leister while Thora Hird appeared in a comic relief role as servant in her first London performance.Our Boys
Our Boys is a comedy in three acts written by Henry James Byron, first performed in London on 16 January 1875 at the Vaudeville Theatre. Until it was surpassed by the run of Charley's Aunt in the 1890s, it was the world's longest-running play, up to that time, with 1,362 performances until April 1879. Theatre owner David James (1839–93) was Perkyn in the production. The production also toured extensively. The play contains the famous line, "Life’s too short for chess."The piece played in New York in 1875, at the New Fifth Avenue Theatre, and in 1907 at the Lyric Theatre. It also played in Philadelphia. Arthur Williams appeared in a 1914 London revival of the piece.Royal Oak Music Theatre
Royal Oak Music Theatre is a music venue located at 318 W. Fourth Street, Royal Oak, Michigan. It was built as a vaudeville theatre and opened in 1928.Runnymede Theatre
The Runnymede Theatre is a historic building located in Bloor West Village, an affluent west end Toronto neighbourhood. The building has operated as a vaudeville theatre, a movie theatre, a bingo hall, and a Chapters bookstore. The building is now a Shoppers Drug Mart.Skylight (play)
Skylight is a play by British dramatist David Hare. The play premiered in the West End at the Cottesloe Theatre in 1995, moving to the Wyndham's Theatre in 1996. After opening on Broadway in 1996, it played again in the West End in 1997 at the Vaudeville Theatre. It was revived at Wyndham's Theatre in the West End in 2014, and that production transferred to Broadway in 2015.The Catch of the Season
The Catch of the Season is an Edwardian musical comedy by Seymour Hicks and Cosmo Hamilton, with music by Herbert Haines and Evelyn Baker and lyrics by Charles H. Taylor, based on the fairy tale Cinderella. A debutante is engaged to a young aristocrat but loves a page.
The musical premiered at the Vaudeville Theatre in London in 1904 and ran for 621 performances. It starred Hicks, Zena Dare and Camille Clifford. Replacements included , Louie Pounds The New York production, in 1905, starred Edna May, at Daly's Theatre. The show was produced internationally and was revived until the First World War.The Duck House
The Duck House is a 2013 comedy farce play written by Dan Patterson and Colin Swash. It is based around the events of the 2009 UK parliamentary expenses scandal, and made its world premiere at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in October 2013, at the start of a five-week UK tour. The production then transferred to the West End's Vaudeville Theatre, where it ran until 29 March 2014.West End theatre
West End theatre is a common term for mainstream professional theatre staged in the large theatres of "Theatreland" in and near the West End of London. Along with New York City's Broadway theatre, West End theatre is usually considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world. Seeing a West End show is a common tourist activity in London.Society of London Theatre (SOLT) has announced that 2017 was a record year for the capital’s theatre industry with attendances topping 15,000,000 for the first time since the organization began collecting audience data in 1986. Box office revenues also exceeded £700,000,000. Famous screen actors, British and international alike, frequently appear on the London stage.
Theatres in London
|Off West End|
Theatres in London