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The Apollo Theatre first opened its doors more than a century ago on 21st February 1901. It is a Grade II building and also one of the most well-known theatres in London’s West End.
The Apollo Theatre first opened its doors more than a century ago on 21st February 1901. It is a Grade II building and also one of the most well-known theatres in London’s West End. Based on architect Lewin Sharp’s design, Henry Lowenfield - a Polish-born British businessman and theatrical impresario - commissioned the building's construction. When the theatre officially opened, it became the 4th legitimate venue for theatrical performances to be built on the street. The first show at the Apollo was the American musical comedy The Belle Of Bohemia. Located in Shaftesbury Avenue in the City of Westminster, the theatre offers a seating capacity of 775. The grand, tall structure comprises three levels – the Grand Circle, Dress Circle and Stalls. Nimax Theatres currently owns the building.
The Apollo Theatre is one of the only London theatres to be freehold instead of leasehold. It is also the only fully finished theatre design by architect Lewin Sharp. The venue was named after the Greek deity of the arts and built for the specific purpose of hosting musical theatres. Builder Walter Wallis constructed the building with plain London brick, and the front piece highlights the Renaissance style with T. Simpson’s sculpted stone fascia. The building surrounds a 4-level auditorium, with a first-floor central loggia and three cantilevered balconies. After the demise of Queen Victoria, the theatre became London’s first theatrical venue to be completed in the Edwardian period. Unlike today’s 775 seats, the theatre initially opened with 893 seats. In 1932, Ernest Schaufelberg renovated the theatre and installed a private foyer and an anteroom to the Royal Box.
Before Nimax Theatres bought the Apollo, several different owners ran the venue.
In 2013, the theatre’s balcony sitting collapsed during a performance of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, after which it saw a major restoration. On 26th March 2014, the venue reopened with an adaptation of Let The Right One In which was produced by the National Theatre of Scotland.
The Belle Of Bohemia, the first production at the Apollo, ran for 72 performances. John Martin-Harvey’s season followed, which included an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Tale Of Two Cities, The Only Way, and A Cigarette Maker’s Romance. Later, from 1920 to 1923, Edward Laurillard and George Grossmith Jr. managed the venue and presented a series of revivals and plays like the stage version of George Du Maurier’s novel Trilby, and H.F. Maltby’s Such A Nice Young Man. In 1928, R.C. Sherriff’s Journey’s End starred Laurence Olivier. The Apollo Theatre has run numerous productions, and its recent hits include Peter Pan Goes Wrong (2016) and Travesties (2017).
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