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Prince Edward Theatre

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Prince Edward Theatre
Prince Edward Theatre in November 2010
AddressOld Compton Street
London, W1
England, United Kingdom
Coordinates51°30′49″N 00°07′51″W / 51.51361°N 0.13083°W / 51.51361; -0.13083
Public transitLondon Underground Leicester Square; Tottenham Court Road
OwnerDelfont Mackintosh Theatres
TypeWest End theatre
ProductionMJ the Musical
Opened1930; 94 years ago (1930)
Rebuilt1946 (T. & B. Braddock)
1978 (RHWL Architects)
ArchitectEdward Stone
Prince Edward Theatre website at Delfont Mackintosh Theatres

The Prince Edward Theatre is a West End theatre situated on Old Compton Street, just north of Leicester Square, in the City of Westminster, London.


The theatre was designed in 1930 by Edward A. Stone,[1] with an interior designed by Marc-Henri Levy and Gaston Laverdet.[2] Named after Prince Edward (at the time Prince of Wales, briefly Edward VIII and later Duke of Windsor), it opened on 3 April 1930 with a performance of the musical Rio Rita.[3] Other notable events in its opening years included the London debut of famed cabaret artiste Josephine Baker, who performed her famous 'Bananas Dance'.

In 1935, Stone converted the theatre to a dance and cabaret hall, being renamed the "London Casino".

As the London Casino, it was badly damaged and all its windows lost on 10 May 1941, in London's worst air raid of the Second World War. All neighbouring buildings directly across Greek Street were destroyed.

Stage alterations were undertaken by Thomas Braddock in 1942, and that year the building re-opened as the "Queensberry All Services Club"—a club for servicemen where the shows were broadcast on the BBC. After the war, the architects T. and E. Braddock restored the building to theatrical use, becoming the "London Casino"[2] once again — where the 'King of Yiddish Music', Leo Fuld, was a major attraction.[citation needed] The last production before Cinerama took over the building was Wish You Were Here, which included a full-size swimming pool on stage.


The three-projector, very-wide-screen Cinerama process had made its debut in New York in September 1952 with This Is Cinerama, a spectacular travelogue designed to make the most of the process, and an enormous box office success. The Cinerama Corporation chose the Casino Theatre for the UK debut of the system, and in 1954 architects Frank Baessler and T. and E. Braddock drew up plans for the conversion. This required the installation of three separate projection boxes at stalls level, and a deeply curved screen in front of the proscenium that was 65 feet (20 m) wide and 26 feet (7.9 m) high. Five speakers behind the screen and others around the auditorium supported the system's seven-track stereophonic sound. Many front stall's seats were removed, and others were lost by the installation of the projection boxes. The sightlines from the upper circle were too poor, and it was taken out of use. Seating capacity was reduced to 1,337.

The Prince Edward Theatre in the early 1960's, while it was operating as the Casino Cinema and presenting the Cinerama film Search for Paradise

The premiere of This Is Cinerama took place on 30 September 1954. Like all subsequent presentations, the film was shown on a roadshow theatrical basis, with reserved seats and an intermission, which was required to load the spools for the second half onto the single projectors in each box. Unlike future 'roadshow' practice, there were three shows a day and the film ran until 28 January 1956. From 3 February 1956, the second Cinerama film, Cinerama Holiday was presented, running until 22 February 1958. From 25 February 1958, the third Cinerama travelogue, Seven Wonders of the World played, running until 31 October 1959 before being replaced by South Seas Adventure from 3 November 1959 to 4 March 1961. The final Cinerama travelogue presentation was Search for Paradise from 8 March 1961 to 4 November 1961.[4] The theatre showed the first four films again during 1962. Over the eight years, the theatre grossed $9.5 million from the films.[5]

The Casino was chosen for the world premiere of How the West Was Won, the second (and final) narrative film in the three-strip Cinerama process. The premiere took place on 1 November 1962,[6] and the film ran for 123 weeks, closing on 13 March 1965. This was the final three-strip presentation at the Casino, for the Cinerama corporation had in 1963 adopted 70mm "single lens" Cinerama as the future standard. The two outer projection boxes at the Casino were taken out of use, and the centre box enlarged to take two Philips DP70 projectors capable of 35mm and 70mm projection. The single-strip system had made its debut in the UK at the Coliseum Cinerama at the end of 1963, and the first film in the process at the Casino was The Greatest Story Ever Told, which ran from 8 April to 28 July 1965.

The Casino now entered into a period of large-scale 70mm "presented in Cinerama" roadshow runs:-

For the next two years the Casino found the going increasingly tough, with revivals of old films and premieres of not-very-good new ones. The final presentation "in Cinerama" was the feeble Run, Run, Joe! and Cinerama vacated the Casino in May 1974.

Return to theatrical use

The theatre was acquired by EMI, and refurbished at a cost of £150,000. The Cinerama screen was removed and replaced with a conventional one within the proscenium and the 70mm projectors were removed and replaced with a single 35mm projector and non-rewind system.[3] The Casino Theatre continued in use as a cinema showing films, including the remake of King Kong. It also staged occasional theatre productions such as Dean (a musical about James Dean) in 1976, and the following year a Christmas production of Peter Pan with Ron Moody as Captain Hook. The final film run was a revival of Lady Sings the Blues and Mahogany which ended on 8 April 1978. The building was then converted back into a full-time theatre by RHWL Architects and given its original name, reopening with the world première of the musical Evita on 21 June 1978. Further renovations were undertaken by RHWL in 1992–93,[2] increasing the size of the stage, reopening 3 March 1993 with a revival of Crazy for You. The ABBA musical Mamma Mia! premièred here on 6 April 1999, transferring to the Prince of Wales Theatre after a five-year run.[3]

Owned by the Delfont Mackintosh Group, and with a capacity of 1,716, it formerly hosted Mary Poppins until 12 January 2008, before the show toured the UK. Jersey Boys opened on 18 March 2008 and moved to the Piccadilly Theatre in March 2014,[7] A revival of Miss Saigon opened at the Prince Edward Theatre in May 2014.[8]

Disney's production of Aladdin opened in June 2016 at the theatre and continued performances until August 2019.[9][10]

Disney's production of Mary Poppins returned to the theatre in 2019 and was scheduled to close on 8 January 2023.[11][12]

Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations was scheduled to open on 31 March 2023 and closed on 17 September 2023.

MJ the Musical, based on the life of Michael Jackson, is scheduled to open in March 2024.[13]

Recent and present productions


  1. ^ The exterior of the theatre was based on Stone's "Streatham Astoria Cinema"
  2. ^ a b c Earl and Sell (2000) pp. 132
  3. ^ a b c Prince Edward Theatre Archived 17 September 2023 at the Wayback Machine (Arthur Lloyd Theatre History) accessed 11 June 2008
  4. ^ "London Casino". Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 30 January 2021.
  5. ^ Myers, Harold (7 November 1962). "In Eight Years C'rama's London Showcase Grossed $9,490,000 On 4 Films, Expansion Plans Noted". Variety. p. 19.
  6. ^ "Lastfogel Calls London the Best Hard Ticket City in the World". Variety. 7 November 1962. p. 19.
  7. ^ "West End's Jersey Boys to Move Home from Prince Edward to Piccadilly Theatre". Playbill. 14 June 2013. Archived from the original on 18 June 2013. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  8. ^ BREAKING NEWS: It's Finally Official! MISS SAIGON to Return to West End in May 2014 at Prince Edward Theatre! Archived 23 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 19 June 2013
  9. ^ "A Whole New World! Disney's ALADDIN Confirms Summer 2016 Premiere in the West End, Starring Trevor Dion Nicholas as Genie!". Broadway World. 15 October 2015. Archived from the original on 16 October 2015. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  10. ^ "London's Aladdin ends August 24 at the Prince Edward Theatre". 24 August 2019. Archived from the original on 10 August 2022. Retrieved 1 July 2022.
  11. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Zizi Strallen and Hello, Dolly!’s Charlie Stemp Will Star in London Revival of Mary Poppins " Archived 23 February 2019 at the Wayback Machine Playbill, September 14, 2018
  12. ^ "Mary Poppins to close in the West End | WhatsOnStage". July 2022. Archived from the original on 1 July 2022. Retrieved 1 July 2022.
  13. ^ "MJ - Sign up for Priority Tickets". Archived from the original on 10 January 2023. Retrieved 10 January 2023.
  14. ^ "The Temptations musical Ain't Too Proud to run in the West End | WhatsOnStage". 23 September 2022. Archived from the original on 20 December 2022. Retrieved 10 January 2023.
  15. ^ "Dear England confirms West End transfer with Joseph Fiennes". 7 August 2023. Archived from the original on 7 August 2023. Retrieved 7 August 2023.
  16. ^ Archived 10 January 2023 at the Wayback Machine [bare URL]
  • Guide to British Theatres 1750–1950, John Earl and Michael Sell pp. 132 (Theatres Trust, 2000) ISBN 0-7136-5688-3

External links

This page was last edited on 28 March 2024, at 23:13
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