Ambassadors Theatre

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

The Ambassadors Theatre is a comparative newcomer to the West End, opening its doors in 1913, since when it has staged a range of classic, popular and new theatre and musical productions.

Located in West Street, close to Shaftesbury Avenue and within walking distance of Leicester Square, the theatre is close to a range of pubs and restaurants enabling you to easily combine your visit to the Ambassadors Theatre with pre- or post-theatre drinks or a great theatre meal deal.

Easily accessible from Leicester Square tube station (two minutes walk), Covent Garden (three minutes) and Tottenham Court Road (five minutes), the theatre is one of the smallest in London with a capacity of just 444 in the pit, stalls and circle. The theatre was designed to be one of two new venues but the advent of the First World War meant that the other, St Martin's, was delayed and did not open until three years later.

Decorated in an elegant Louis XVI style, the theatre has a horseshoe-shaped balcony, which stands just a short distance from the ground level, while the stalls are actually below ground level.

The history

The Grade II listed Ambassadors Theatre was designed by W G R Sprague and opened with a production of Panthea, a play by Monckton Hoffe, which lasted just 15 nights. Originally home to stagings of 'miniature revues', the venue became best-known for Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap, which opened in 1952, and starred Sir Richard Attenborough, and which subsequently ran with numerous cast changes until 1973.

It was a venue which marked the West End debut of Vivien Leigh in 1935 in The Mask of Virtue. Other notable productions include Deburau in 1921 which saw the debut of Ivor Novello and Paul Robeson in The Emperor Jones by Eugene O'Neill in 1925. Following the transfer of The Mousetrap to the larger St Martin's, the venue enjoyed another major success with the RSC's Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Christopher Hampton.

In 1996 the theatre was bought by the Ambassadors Theatre Group and converted into two studio spaces in order to accommodate The Royal Court, which enjoyed a successful residency until 1999. Following its departure, the theatre was converted back into one auditorium and renamed the New Ambassadors Theatre. In 2007, following its sale by the Ambassadors Theatre Group, it reverted to its original name.

Hosting a range of theatre

The size of the venue means it lends itself to more intimate productions such as Krapp's Last Tape by Samuel Beckett and starring John Hurt, Waiting for Godot directed by Peter Hall, as well as Some Explicit Polaroids by Mark Ravenhill and Spoonface Steinberg by Lee Hall. It has also hosted the transfer of the Watermill Theatre's revival of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd and other musicals including Telestar, and the Menier Chocolate Factory's revival of Little Shop of Horrors, as well Al Murray, Pub Landlord.

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