The Duke of York’s Theatre which is part of the Ambassadors Theatre Group is known for staging prestigious plays featuring shows with acclaimed actors heading the cast. Famous names to appear at the Duke of York’s Theatre include Nicholas Lyndhurst, Jeremy Irons, Michael Gambon, Dominic West, Alistair McGowan, Orlando Bloom, Matt Smith, Catherine Tate, David Walliams, Ken Stott, Samantha Bond, Ed Stoppard, John Simm, Andy Nyman and Reece Shearsmith.
Walter Emden was the architect behind the theatre design. It was built for Frank Wyatt and his wife, Violet Melnotte. When it opened in September 1894 it was known as the Trafalgar Square Theatre. Emden had also provided a wealth of other venues to the West End theatre scene including the Palace Theatre and the Garrick Theatre. Two years after opening the name would be changed to the Duke of York’s Theatre. Its name change was to honour the then-Duke of York, who would later become King George V.
The first show to appear at the venue took the form of an opera entitled “The Wedding Eve”, which was written by F. Toulmouche. “The Wedding Eve” was an adaptation of the French text, though it did not find the audience that the management was perhaps looking for, leading to its early closure.
Across the 20th century it would remain in its original form and also managed to survive the onslaught of two world wars. In the late 1970s the freehold of the theatre was purchased by Capital Radio and it closed in 1979 for refurbishment. It reopened in February 1980 and the first production was Rose, starring Glenda Jackson.
The Ambassador Theatre Group bought the theatre in 1992 and this coincided with London’s hottest ticket – The Royal Court’s production of Ariel Dorfman’s Death and the Maiden. A host of successes followed including Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show celebrating its 21st Birthday and the hugely successful Royal Court Classics Season in 1995. The Duke of York’s has played host to the Royal Court and ATG’s highly acclaimed co-production of The Weir, which ran for over 2 years and won the 1999 Olivier Award for Best New Play.
It has also hosted a sellout run of Stones In His Pockets, winner of the 2001 Olivier awards for Best Comedy and Best Comedy Actor. This was followed by Shared Experience’s acclaimed production of After Mrs Rochester, Stephen Poliakoff’s Sweet Panic, Michael Hastings’ Calico, The Holy Terror by Simon Gray, Dirty Blonde by Claudia Shear, Ronald Harwood’s The Dresser starring Nicholas Lyndhurst and Julian Glover and most recently Richard Eyre’s production of Hedda Gabler starring Eve Best.
In 2010, the Duke of York’s staged the Lyric Hammersmith production of Ghost Stories, which saw Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman’s spooky tale provide theatregoers with some scary treats. More recently the theatre has hosted a string of successful plays including The Judas Kiss (2012) starring Rupert Everett and Freddie Fox, Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense (Nov 2013 – Sep 2014), Felicity Kendal in Noël Coward’s Hay Fever in 2015 and The Father (Feb -Mar 2016).
Duke of York’s Theatre tickets in London:
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