The Shaftesbury Theatre, situated in the heart of Theatreland, was the last theatre to be built on Shaftesbury Avenue and was originally named The Princes Theatre. It was considered a flamboyant masterpiece in the early 1900's and the life-size groups of statuary representing Comedy, Tragedy, Poetry and Music still adorn the tops of the boxes.
The Shaftesbury is currently showing the Broadway hit Rock of Ages, an energetic and loud musical must-see for all ages. Grab yourself some tickets for this show and relive the times when you played air guitar to the rock greats.
In Summer 2010 the international dance sensation Burn the Floor graced the Shaftesbury's stage, consistently wowing audiences with its reinvention of Ballroom and Latin dancing. It returns in 2013. Based on the film, Flashdance The Musical followed Burn the Floor's original run, continuing the dance theme into 2011.
A century before, on Boxing Day 1911, the Princes Theatre originally opened with a production of The Three Musketeers. Despite two occasions of bombing during the Second World War, the theatre remained open, offering audiences a cultural programme of international talent such as Serge Diaghaleff's Ballet featuring Margot Fonteyn and the Sadler's Wells Opera and Ballet.
The theatre underwent extensive changes in the early 1960's and under the new management of Charles Clore and EMI, the theatre was renamed the Shaftesbury Theatre in 1962. Its new name brought the theatre luck as it reopened with the Broadway success How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying which ran for over 500 performances.
To mark the end of theatre censorship in September 1968, the revolutionary musical Hair opened. It played for over 5 years and was about to celebrate its record-breaking 2000th performance when the need to carry out renovation work forced the Theatre to close its doors. Only prolonged and passionate opposition from members of the actor's union and members of the entertainment industry saved the Shaftesbury from redevelopment and it is now a Grade II listed building.
The Shaftesbury Theatre reopened in 1974 with West Side Story and over the following years it saw several changes in ownership and management, involving some of the leading names in British theatre. By 1978 the theatre was owned by Laurie Marsh, millionaire theatre impresario, and Ray Cooney. The most successful production during this time was the 1980 musical They're Playing Our Song, starring Tom Conti and Gemma Craven, which ran for nearly two years.
In 1983 Ray Cooney formed the Theatre of Comedy Company, with some thirty leading actors, writers and directors, to take a lease on the Shaftesbury Theatre and presented Run For Your Wife. This was followed by a season of comedies that promoted British comedy at its finest.
The Shaftesbury Theatre has always prided itself on presenting original work and the new millennium ushered in shows like Napoleon (2000) as well as musical adaptations of the classic films Peggy Sue Got Married (2001) and Thoroughly Modern Millie (2003), the latter starring Maureen Lipman and Amanda Holden. The famous novel by M.M Kaye, The Far Pavilions, was adapted to a musical in 2005, uniting Indian and British culture with a richness and splendour seldom seen on stage. It is currently scheduled to be retold as a major Bollywood movie. The Christmas season in 2005 was celebrated with Cole Porter's High Society, and this was followed in 2006 by the contemporary musical Daddy Cool (2006) which featured the music of the pop phenomenon Boney M.
In May 2007, the theatre commenced a long term production deal with Europe's largest theatre owners Stage Entertainment with an exhilarating summer season of the time-honoured musical Fame. The second production, the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Hairspray, opened in October 2007 to huge acclaim and went on to win many awards. Having secured 40 major awards and playing to capacity audiences Hairspray is the most successful production in the history of the Shaftesbury Theatre. After two and a half sensational years, Hairspray closed on Sunday 28th March 2010.
Shaftesbury Theatre tickets in London:
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Address & Location
210 Shaftesbury Avenue
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