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Playhouse Theatre

Attractions Charing Cross

Time Out says

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This substantial West End theatre offers an ever-changing line-up of hit shows

The stately curved frontage of The Playhouse Theatre loses none of its grandeur for butting onto Charing Cross station – a fact that caused disaster in 1905, when the railway station's roof collapsed and crushed the theatre's auditorium. After being rebuilt in 1907, the 786-seat Playhouse Theatre quickly recovered from its inauspicious beginnings. The short story master Somerset Maugham's play 'Home and Beauty' premiered there in 1919, and actor Alex Guinness made his stage debut at the Playhouse in 1934. 

When WWII hit, it became home to US servicemen who staged a production of 'Our Town', acting alongside female Londoners. And in 1951, the BBC took over the Playhouse, recording classic telly comedies like 'The Goon Show' and 'Steptoe and Son', as well as hosting performances by KISS, Queen, and The Beatles on the theatre's stage. 

When the Beeb left the Playhouse, things looked grim, and the theatre was dark for over a decade from 1976. But it had a surprising (if ignominious) return to glory in 1988, when novelist and politician Jeffrey Archer bought it up and reopened its doors. It changed hands a few times in subsequent years, including a spell with trouser-dropping retro farce writer Ray Cooney at the helm. But under current owners Ambassador Theatre Group, its future looks pretty secure.

A refurb supervised by English Heritage restored it to its 1905 glory, complete with reproduction paintings, gilt a plenty, and grand sculptures of winged women supporting its boxes. It has 786 seats over three levels, and packs audiences in with an ever-changing line-up of celeb vehicles, musicals, and transfers of Off-West End hits like Robert Icke's hugely successful '1984'. 




Address: Northumberland Avenue
Transport: Rail/Tube: Charing Cross; Tube: Embankment
Price: Various
Opening hours: Check website for show times
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