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Musicals are (usually) the order of the day at Piccadilly Circus's biggest theatre
Fittingly for a theatre that's just a hop, skip and a jump away from tourist hotspot Piccadilly Circus, the Piccadilly hosts some of the poppiest, schlockiest shows around. Its 21th century roster has included 'Grease', 'Ghost - The Musical', 'Dirty Dancing', 'Jersey Boys' and 'Strictly Ballroom'. The ill-fated (and awful) Spice Girl musical 'Viva Forever' even darkened its doors in 2012. But more recently, it's made the odd move towards straight drama, staging 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time' and banking saga 'The Lehman Trilogy'.
Piccadilly Theatre opened its doors in 1928. It operated for a short time as a cinema and was behind the screening of the first ‘talkie’ in Britain – Warner Brothers’ film ‘The Singing Fool’. But from 1929 onwards, it settled down to staging theatre in earnest. Its run of lavish musical spectaculars was temporarily halted during WWII, when it was damaged by flying bombs. It reopened with crime writer Agatha Christie's play 'An Appointment With Death' in 1945. In the '60s and '70s it landed some high profile London premieres, including Broadway hits 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?', 'Man of La Mancha' and 'A Streetcar Named Desire'. In the 1986, the nation tuned their telly sets to 'Live at the Piccadilly', a Sunday night variety show hosted by the theatre. And in 1997, it hosted ballet for the first time, with Matthew Bourne's memorable West End hit 'Swan Lake'.
Today, Piccadilly Theatre is part of the Ambassador Theatre Group. It has 1,232 seats across three levels, with a decorative scheme of gold and green that's more restrained than its gilt-happy West End neighbours.
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