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Phoenix Theatre

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

The Phoenix Theatre, which opened its doors on Charing Cross Road in 1930, could hardly have done so more auspiciously with the premiere of Noel Coward's Private Lives starring the playwright and Laurence Olivier, which ran for 101 performances before moving to America. Today, this theatre is within easy walking distance of many popular pubs and restaurants, making it ideally located for pre- or posts-theatre drinks or a great theatre meal deal.

Located just three minutes walk from Tottenham Court Road tube station, four minutes from Leicester Square and five minutes from Covent Garden, the theatre is a curious mix of
classical architecture and opulent Art Deco. The interior features mirrored corridors and striking murals, making it a dazzling setting for your theatre visit.

Indeed the interior, which was designed by director and designer Theodore Komisarjevsky in an Italianate style is thought to be one of the finest in London, with reproductions of paintings by Titian and Tintoretto. The theatre has a capacity of 1,000 accommodated across three levels: stalls, dress circle and upper circle.

The history

After Private Lives, the theatre continued its association with the playwright with stagings of Tonight at 8.30 (1936) and Quadrille (1952). Other notable productions include Love for Love by William Congreve and starring Sir John Gielgud in the Second World War; Harliquinade and The Browning Version by Terence Rattigan, which opened in 1948; a season featuring the director Peter Brook and actor Paul Schofield in the 1950s; and an adaptation of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales that opened in 1968 and ran for 2,000 shows.

More recently, in the 1970s and 1980s, the theatre staged many award-winning musicals, including The Baker's Wife by Stephen Schwartz and Into the Wood by Stephen Sondheim, as well as a very successful season of RSC productions. Blood Brothers by Willy Russell, which transferred from the Albery Theatre in 1991, was the Phoenix Theatre's longest running production, closing only in November 2012. Other productions include Goodnight Mr Tom and the smash Broadway musical Once, which opened in 2013.

The opening of the theatre's re-named Noel Coward bar in 1969, in honour of the long association with the playwright, was graced by a visit from the author himself.

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