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The Playhouse Theatre is a London West End theatre in the heart of Westminster, around the corner from Trafalgar Square. The theatre has a capacity of 786 on three levels.
The Playhouse Theatre: History
The Playhouse opened first as The Royal Avenue Theatre on the 11th March, 1882 with a revival of Offenbach's Madam Favart. The prefix "Royal" was soon dropped from the theatre's name, but comic operas, burlesques and the like remained the staple fare for several years. For much of this time, Arthur Roberts, a popular star of the music halls, led the company at the Avenue. In the early 1890s the emphasis changed to drama and in 1894 Miss Horniman, the tea heiress, later a pioneer of the repertory movement, anonymously sponsored the actress Florence Farr in a season of plays. Sadly, the first production failed but Miss Farr persuaded her friend, a certain George Bernard Shaw, to finish his play, Arms and the Man, as a speedy replacement and his first West End production. It was successful enough to allow him to drop his music criticism in favour of play writing. The theatre was rebuilt in 1905 with designed by Blow and Billerey, and despite an accident that caused the collapse of part of the adjacent Charing Cross railway station, it was reopened on January 28, 1907 as The Playhouse Theatre. Since then, the beautiful Playhouse Theatre has hosted the likes of WS Gilbert, legendary actress-manager Gladys Cooper, the BBC, The Almeida Theatre Company, The Peter Hall Company, and Janet McTeer. The theatre still has its original substage machinery.
In January 2003, Maidstone Productions became the new independent owners of The Playhouse, and in March of the same year the Ambassador Theatre Group took over the stewardship of the Playhouse Theatre. The Ambassador Theatre Group is responsible for the theatre's management and programming, working with Maidstone Productions and the team at the theatre. Other major past productions include Richard Eyre's production Vincent in Brixton starring Clare Higgins and Journey's End directed by David Grindley.
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