Time Out says
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This plushy theatre plays host to some of the West End's biggest musicals
Phoenix Theatre made an auspicious West End debut in 1930, when it opened its doors with Noël Coward's 'Private Lives', with a cast including Gertrude Lawrence and a young Laurence Olivier. From the outside, it doesn't look like much. But step beyond its austere neoclassical facade and you'll discover one of the West End's most ambitious and showiest interiors, boasting endless Italianate gilt flourishes, a spectacular mirrored ceiling, paintings inspired by greats such as Tinteretto and Titian, and room for over 1000 audience members. In its early years, the Phoenix kept up its link with Coward, staging his collection of short plays 'Tonight at 8.30' (which included the drama that inspired 'Brief Encounter') - a link that's commemorated by the venue's Noël Coward bar.
It went on to stage a mix of highbrow dramas and musicals before committing to the latter genre in 1968, when it regaled audiences with a hugely successful (but now almost completely forgotten) musical version of 'The Canterbury Tales'. This medieval extravaganza launched just after the Lord Chamberlain's censorship of London theatres came to an end, and crowds were so delighted by its bawdy themes that it ran for 2,080 performances. But an even bigger success came when Willy Russell's long-running musical 'Blood Brothers' took up residency in 1991, and ran for nearly two decades with a bloody, moving epic of Liverpool gangs. Since ‘Blood Brothers’ left in 2012 the Phoenix Theatre has hosted a pretty eclectic range of shows, including 'Once', 'Bend it Like Beckham', 'Chicago' and 'The Girls', with a definite musical theatre bias. Its latest show is Broadway import 'Come From Away', which comes to the West End on a tidal wave of hype.
Charing Cross Road
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