The largest theatre space in the city, where the programme covers blockbuster musicals, rock legends and comedy’s A-list
Owned by the Ambassador Theatre group, the Playhouse is the largest and one of the most iconic theatre spaces in Edinburgh, not to mention one of the largest non-sport theatres in the UK, with a capacity of just over 3,000. Opened in 1929, it was originally intended as a variety hall, although a change of heart by the owners mid-construction saw it run as a cinema from the very start. Designed by Glasgow architect John Fairweather, its design took inspiration from the Roxy Theatre in New York.
The cinema boomed in its early years, and stars including Marlene Dietrich, Yul Brynner and Laurel and Hardy all visited, until a downturn in demand for auditoriums of such a size led to the building’s closure in 1973 (ironically, or perhaps intentionally, the last film to be screened was ‘Live and Let Die’). Despite the lack of business, though, the Playhouse remained an iconic location in the hearts of Edinburgh people. In the face of threats to rip it down and put an office block in its place, the Edinburgh Playhouse Society was formed, forcing the council to put a preservation order on the building and eventually reopen it as a theatre in 1980.
Since then the Playhouse has passed through numerous commercial hands, ending up with Ambassador in 2010. Although initially it built a reputation as a home for big-name rock concerts, in recent years it has been used more as a venue for large-scale touring musical theatre shows, which appear on the bill on an almost weekly basis. The programme is still broad, though, often incorporating large comedy shows, tribute acts, dance performances and rock concerts, with artists like Neil Young, Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Al Green having appeared in recent times. It also contains its own pre-show cocktail bar and restaurant, The Boards.
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Michael Flatley's Lord Of The Dance: Dangerous Games
The Irish-American dancer and choreographer directs this dynamic dance-theatre spectacular about the Little Spirit, who travels through time to help the Lord of the Dance protect his people from the Dark Lord.Folk and ethnic Until Sunday March 26 2017
Ellen Kent's Opera & Ballet International: La Boheme
Kent directs a production of Puccini's opera about the despairing love affair between Rodolfo and Mimi, featuring many famous arias including Your Tiny Hand Is Frozen. Sung in Italian with English surtitles.Classical and opera Thursday March 30 2017
Ellen Kent's Opera & Ballet International: Aida
Verdi's masterpiece stars international French soprano Olga Perrier as the enslaved Ethiopian princess with mezzo Liza Kadelnik, from the Romanian National Opera, as Amneris. Sung in Italian with English surtitles.Classical and opera Saturday April 1 2017
Jamie Wilson presents the Curve Leicester production of the feel-amazing musical comedy featuring original music by Tony and eight-time Oscar winner Alan Menken about a wannabe diva who hides out in a convent after witnessing a crime directed and choreographed...Musicals Monday April 3 2017 - Saturday April 15 2017
Sheridan Smith and Natasha J Barnes star as Fanny Brice in a major revival of the hit musical. The show charts the rise of one of Broadway's biggest stars under producer Florenz Ziegfield and her doomed offstage relationship with the man she loved. The...Musicals Tuesday April 18 2017 - Saturday April 22 2017