The current Her Majesty's Theatre, which stands on Haymarket, opened in 1897 and is the fourth to have stood on the site at the heart of the West End. Although it has a long and proud history of giving the premieres of works by the likes of George Bernard Shaw, Noel Coward and J B Priestley, it is best known today as the home of blockbuster musicals such as The Phantom of the Opera which had its premiere here.
Situated within three minutes' walk of Piccadilly Circus, five minutes from Leicester Square and six minutes from Charing Cross, the venue also offers easy access to popular restaurants and bars. This makes it an ideal location if you want to enjoy pre or post-theatre drinks or a great lastminute.com theatre meal deal.
The theatre accommodates 1,216 people across four levels, stalls, royal circle, upper circle and balcony. The imposing four-storey building with its Corinthian pillars was designed by the architect Charles J Phipps. A companion building, the Carlton Hotel, on the adjacent site, was pulled down and replaced by New Zealand House in the 1960s. Although the venue, with its French Renaissance-style interior had its critics, English Heritage has described it both as Phipps' finest work and the best-planned theatre to be found in London.
The theatre was built on behalf of actor-manager Henry Beerbohm Tree who established the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art here. During the last years of the 19th-century the venue hosted lavish productions of Shakespeare and other classical works. It staged many premieres by leading playwrights like J M Synge and George Bernard Shaw. However, since World War I, it has specialised in staging large musicals.
The musical Chu Chin Chow was an early success, opening in 1916 and running for 2,235 performances, twice as long as the previous long-running show.
Other landmarks include the London premiere of Oh Kay! by George and Ira Gershwin in 1927, and Noel Coward's operetta Bitter Sweet which opened in 1929. J B Priestley's adaptation of his book The Good Companions also premiered here in 1931. Musicals continued to dominate the scene after the Second World War with transfers of hit Broadway productions such as Follow the Girls in 1945, Lerner and Loewe's Brigadoon, and West Side Story which opened here in 1958.
More recently, it hosted the First Secret Policeman's Ball starring Peter Cook and was the venue for the popular ITV show Live from Her Majesty's which ran for three years from 1982. The Phantom of the Opera had its world premiere here in 1986, originally starring Michael Crawford, and was still running in 2014.
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