Aldwych Theatre

A guide to the Aldwych Theatre in London's West End

Since opening in 1913, the Aldwych Theatre has staged many classic plays including several premieres of works by Harold Pinter, farces and, more recently, smash-hit musicals. It is within easy walking distance of many popular attractions such as Leicester Square, as well as many popular pubs and restaurants. It means it's ideally located if you're looking to combine it with a great theatre meal deal or drinks.

Situated in The Aldwych close to Covent Garden, the theatre is four minutes walk from Covent Garden tube station, five minutes from Temple and seven minutes from the Embankment. It has a capacity of 1,200 accommodated across three levels stalls, dress circle and upper circle. Designed in the Georgian style, the theatre is part of a vast complex that includes the Waldorf Hotel and the Waldorf, now the Ivor Novello Theatre. Its great location, ornate interior and period charm make it a great venue for that special day out.

The history

Designed by the prolific W G R Sprague, the Aldwych opened with a production of Blue Bell, a new version of the popular pantomime Bluebell in Fairyland. On a very different note, in 1913, the theatre was used by Sergei Diaghilev and Vaslav Nijinsky for rehearsals of the ballet The Rite of Spring. This opened to a huge furore in Paris shortly afterwards. From 1923 to 1933 the theatre hosted 12 comedies, most of them written by Ben Travers, which became known as The Aldwych Farces and which enjoyed huge popularity. This was followed in 1949 by a staging of A Streetcar Named Desire starring Vivien Leigh following her film success. 

Other notable productions included The Wars of the Roses, The Greeks and Nicholas Nickleby starring Roger Rees, among the plays staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). They took up residency here from 1960 to 1963 before moving to the Barbican. Following the departure of the RSC, impresario Peter Daubeny staged the acclaimed The World Theatre Seasons, which ran from 1964 to 1975, and which featured foreign plays in their original language.

Other landmark productions include the premieres of The Collection, The Homecoming and Old Times by Harold Pinter. More recently, the venue hosted a production of Noel Coward's Private Lives (1990) starring Joan Collins, An Inspector Calls (1993 to 1995), Whistle Down the Wind, a musical by Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Fame - The Musical, Dirty Dancing, Top Hat - The Musical and the short-lived Stephen Ward The Musical.

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