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Sondheim Theatre

Theatre Soho
Sondheim Theatre, 2019

Time Out says

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This historic theatre rose from the ashes of a WWII bombing raid to delight punters with tales of revolutionary France

Built in 1907 as a twin to the neighbouring Hicks Theatre (now the Gielgud), the Sondheim Theatre (former the Queen’s Theatre) is a storied 1,074-seat house that has played host to most of the twentieth century’s great and good actors. With ‘Les Misérables’ consistently drawing in the West End punters, the chequered early years of the Queen’s Theatre’s are a distant memory. It opened back in 1907 with a run of duds. The theatre's owners tried everything to pull in the punters - including fashion shows, and so-called 'Tango Teas' which offered expert demonstrations at the height of the then-scandalous dance craze. Eventually, the Queen's Theatre hit its stride with a production of ‘Rebecca’, starring Celia Johnson, only to be blasted in a WWII bombing raid in 1940. The theatre’s stone dome, grand staircase and foyer were destroyed and Queen's was forced to draw the curtain for nearly 20 years.

The theatre finally rose from the ashes in 1959, with a totally new look. Renovation work, funded by the War Damage Commission, gave the theatre a modern brick and glass facade - a far cry from her former ornate grandeur. But inside, the original Edwardian auditorium was scrubbed clean of decades of dust and pigeon droppings, and restored to its original gilded splendour. The subsequent years included highlights like staging the seductive Marlene Dietrich in two cabaret seasons, and Alec Guinness in his own take on Jonathan Swift's writings. The greatest success, however, is the 2004 transfer of RSC’s version of Boublil and Schönberg’s musical 'Les Miserables'. As London's longest-running musical, it still sends audiences out singing onto Shaftesbury Avenue each night.

It closed in July 2019 for more refurbishment, including fixing some still unrepaired bomb damage. Upon reopening in December 2019 it will offically be named the Sondheim Theatre, named – of course – after the great musical theatre composer, Stephen Sondheim.

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Details

Address: 51
Shaftesbury Avenue
London
W1D 6BA
Transport: Tube: Piccadilly Circus/Leicester Square
Contact:
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