Constructed as a pair, with the Waldorf Theatre (now the Novello Theatre) as its counterpart, the Aldwych Theatre opened on December 23rd 1905 on the recently built Aldwych. Both theatres were designed by W. G. R. Sprague, who had worked on several other theatres in the West End as well outside of London. It is said that the Aldwych was built for Seymour Hicks, the actor/playwright/manager/producer who worked in connection with Charles Frohman, a prominent American-born producer. The Aldwych opened to a reinvention of Hicks’ Christmas pantomime Bluebell in Fairyland, followed by his Beauty of Bath and The Gay Gordons the year after.
During the First World War, the building was used as a club for Australian servicemen, and thereafter it was renowned for The Aldwych Farces, becoming a highly popular entertainment spot in London until the mid-1930s.
The following years were tougher times in the Aldwych’s history, despite the launch of Privilege Tickets, which were the bargains at the time. It was only in 1942, with the opening of Watch on the Rhine, a story of Nazi-resistance, that audiences flocked back to the theatre.
In 1960, a notable period in the theatre’s history began, as the Royal Shakespeare Company, based in Stratford-Upon-Avon, took up residence at the Aldwych for their London productions. Initially intending to stay for just three years, they in fact remained for over twenty, before transferring to the Barbican Arts Centre. During this time, many of Shakespeare’s plays were performed, as well as productions such as Nicholas Nickleby, The Wars of the Roses and The Greeks. The theatre also hosted the annual World Theatre Seasons, where foreign productions were invited to London to be performed in their original conception.
Since the start of the new millennium, the theatre has seen a variety of musicals, comedies and plays being performed, including Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Whistle Down the Wind in 2001, Thunderbirds FAB and Bedroom Farce in 2002, then a four-year run of Fame the Musical until 2006, followed by a five-year run of Dirty Dancing – the Classic Story on Stage until 2011. More recently the theatre saw a successful revival of Top Hat which ran from April 2012 to October 2013. After that, the theatre also housed productions like Stephen Ward, Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies (July 2014) and Dance Til Dawn (2014 -2015). The most recent production since February 2015 is Beautiful- The Carol King Musical.
Aldwych theatre tickets in London:
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