Venue and Travel Information
49 Aldwych, London, WC2B 4DF, United Kingdom
Nearest Tube: Charing Cross
Tube Lines: Bakerloo, Northern
Directions from nearest tube: From The Strand. Cross street where possible and go right. When you reach the fork, turn left onto Aldwych.
Railway Station: Charing Cross
Bus Numbers: (Aldwych) RV1, X68, 1, 6, 11, 13, 23, 59, 68, 87, 91, 139, 168, 171, 172, 188, 243; (Strand) 4, 9, 15, 26, 76, 176, 341
Car Park: Drury Lane, Parker Street
Within Congestion Zone: Yes
Venue Facilities: Air conditioned, Bar, Disabled toilets, Infrared hearing loop, Toilets, Wheelchair accessible
Alwdych Theatre Brief History
When the area between Wellington Street, Strand and Fleet Street was rebuilt in the latter years of the nineteenth century, much of London’s old theatre land was removed. The present-day streets of Aldwych and Kingsway were built, with plans being made for the building of two theatres with identical facades along the Aldwych. One was to be built on the corner of Catherine Street, and the other on the corner of Drury Lane. Between the two theatres the fabulous Waldorf hotel.
The Aldwych Theatre was designed by W G R Sprague and constructed by Balham’s Walter Wallis for Seymour Hicks. The Aldwych theatre began with a production of Blue Bell, a new version of Hicks’ well-liked pantomime Bluebell in Fairyland. In 1906, The Beauty of Bath, then followed in 1907 by The Gay Gordons. In February 1913 the theatre was utilized by Serge Diaghilev and Vaslav Nijinsky for rehearsals of Le Sacre du Printemps before its controversial premiere in Paris later on that year.
In 1920, Basil Rathbone played the part of Major Wharton in The Unknown. From 1925-1933, it turned into the home of farces by Ben Travers’s, often also referred to as The Aldwych Farces. Travers’ company contained Ralph Lynn, Tom Walls, Yvonne Arnaud, Norma Varden, Mary Brough, Winifred Shotter and Robertson Hare. In 1933, Richard Tauber presented and starred in a new adaptation of Das Dreim derlhaus, under the title Lilac Time. From the mid-1930s until around 1960, the theatre was owned by the Abrahams.
During the post-war years Vivien Leigh, who had won an Academy Award for the film version of the same name, appeared in a 1949 London production of A Streetcar Named Desire, directed by her husband, Laurence Olivier, with Bonar Colleano co-starring as Stanley.
On 15th December 1960, it was announced that the RSC of Stratford-upon-Avon was to base its London productions at the Aldwych Theatre for the next three years. They then stayed for more than 20 years, eventually moving to the Barbican Arts Centre in 1982. Among many significant productions were The Wars of the Roses, The Greeks, and Nicholas Nickleby, together with many Shakespeare productions.
During absences of the RSC, the theatre hosted the annual World Theatre Seasons, with international plays in their original productions, invited to London by the theatre impresario Peter Daubeny, annually from 1964 to 1973 and finally in 1975. For his involvement with these seasons, performed without any Arts Council or other official financial support, Daubeny won the Evening Standard Special Award in 1972. The Aldwych Theatre was listed as a Grade II listed building on 20th July 1971.
In 1990-91, British actress Joan Collins starred in Private Lives. Since 2000, the theatre has hosted a variation of plays, comedies and musical theatre productions. With Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Whistle Down the Wind playing until 2001, and Fame enjoying an extended run from 2002 to 2006. From that time, the venue has hosted Dancing in the Streets, which subsequently moved to the Playhouse Theatre and since September 2006 has been the home to the British musical version of Dirty Dancing by Eleanor Bergstein. Currently playing is the world premiere of Top Hat the stage musical.
RECENT and CURRENT PRODUCTIONS
A Round-Heeled Woman (30 November 2011 – 14 January 2012)
Top Hat the Musical (April 2012 – 26 October 2013) by Irving Berlin
Stephen Ward the Musical (December 2013 – March 2014 ) by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Don Black and Christopher Hampton
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (25 February 2015 – )