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Shaftesbury Theatre

Shaftesbury Theatre
New Prince's Theatre
Prince's Theatre
Shaftesbury Theatre in January 2012
Address Shaftesbury Avenue
Camden, London
Owner The Theatre of Comedy Company
Designation Grade II
Type West End Theatre
Capacity 1,400 seat
Opened 26 December 1911
Architect Bertie Crewe

The Shaftesbury Theatre is a West End Theatre, located on Shaftesbury Avenue, in the London Borough of Camden.


  • History 1
  • Present day 2
  • Notable productions 3
  • Recent productions 4
  • References 5
  • Nearby Tube Stations 6
  • External links 7


The theatre was designed for the brothers Walter and Frederick Melville by Bertie Crewe and opened on 26 December 1911 with a production of The Three Musketeers, as the New Prince's Theatre, becoming the Prince's Theatre in 1914. It had a capacity of 2,392 and a stage 31' 10" wide by 31' deep.

1921–22 D'Oyly Carte season: Ruddigore

The Prince's was the last theatre to be built in Shaftesbury Avenue, and is located near New Oxford Street, perhaps explaining the many gaps between performances in its early years. It had considerable success with an 18-week season of Gilbert and Sullivan operas, presented by the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, in 1919. These became a regular attraction at the theatre in the 1920s, interspersed with runs of theatre productions transferred from other venues. Basil Rathbone appeared at the Prince's Theatre in May 1933 when he played Julian Beauclerc in a revival of Diplomacy. The Rose of Persia was revived at the theatre in 1935. The D'Oyly Carte returned in 1942.

The theatre was sold to EMI in 1962, and became the Shaftesbury Theatre the following year. Broadway productions that transferred to the theatre for long runs in the 1960s included Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1962)and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1963).

Part of the ceiling fell in on 20 July 1973, forcing the closure of the long-running musical Hair, after 1,998 performances. The theatre almost fell victim to redevelopment, but a campaign by Equity succeeded in having the theatre placed on the 'Statutory List of Buildings of Special architectural or Historic Interest', and the theatre was Grade II listed by English Heritage in March 1974.[1]

The theatre reopened with West Side Story a year later. Long runs in the 1980s included They're Playing Our Song (1980) and Follies (1987). The next decade included long runs of Kiss of the Spider Woman (1992), Eddie Izzard: Definite Article (1995) and Rent (1998). During the redevelopment of the Royal Opera House in nearby Covent Garden in the late 1990s, the theatre was booked as an alternative London venue for performances including Benjamin Britten's Paul Bunyan. A series of musicals followed.

Present day

The venue is currently owned by the Theatre of Comedy Company, who have owned the venue since 1984.

In March 2006, the 1,400 seat theatre underwent an internal refurbishment, with the entire auditorium being reseated and recarpeted and the front of house areas redecorated. Since reopening, the theatre has hosted several revivals, including the European premiere of the Tony Award-winning Broadway hit Hairspray, which opened in October 2007 and closed in March 2010. Flashdance The Musical open in September 2010 and closing in January 2011.

Notable productions

Recent productions


  1. ^ English Heritage listing details accessed 28 April 2007
  2. ^ "Burn the Floor posts early closing notices at Shaftesbury, 30 June". Whats On Stage. 26 April 2013. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  3. ^ "Tim Rice musical set for West End".  
  4. ^ "The Pajama Game". Shaftesbury Theatre. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  5. ^ "Memphis". Shaftesbury Theatre. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  6. ^ "Motown the Musical at Shaftesbury Theatre". London Theatre Direct. Retrieved 19 May 2015. 
  7. ^ "The World's Best Selling Magic Show Announces Its Incredible Full Line-Up". London Theatre Direct. Retrieved 31 August 2015. 
  • Guide to British Theatres 1750–1950, John Earl and Michael Sell pp. 140–1 (Theatres Trust, 2000) ISBN 0-7136-5688-3
  • Who's Who in the Theatre, edited by John Parker, tenth edition, revised, London, 1947, p. 1184.

Nearby Tube Stations

External links

  • Theatre History
  • Shaftesbury Theatre
  • Scenes from the 1921–22 D'Oyly Carte season at the theatre
  • Theatre of Comedy
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