Adelphi Theatre
Address Strand
Borough City of Westminster
Capacity 1500
Type West End
Opened 1806

The Adelphi Theatre is a 1500-seat West End theatre, located on the Strand in the City of Westminster. The present building is the fourth on the site. The theatre has specialised in comedy and musical theatre, today it is a receiving house for a variety of productions, including many musicals. The theatre was Grade II listed on December 1, 1987.


19th centuryEdit

It was founded in 1806 as the Sans Pareil ("Without Compare"), by merchant John Scott, and his daughter Jane (1770–1839). Jane was a British theatre manager, performer, and playwright. Together, they gathered a theatrical company and by 1809 the theatre was licensed for musical entertainments, pantomime, and burletta. She wrote more than fifty stage pieces in an array of genres: melodramas, pantomimes, farces, comic operettas, historical dramas, and adaptations, as well as translations. Jane Scott retired to Surrey in 1819, marrying John Davies Middleton (1790–1867).


Sketch of a scene from Jane Scott's 1816 play, The Old Oak Chest

On October 18, 1819, the theatre reopened under its present name, which was adopted from the Adelphi Buildings opposite.

In its early years, the theatre was known for melodrama, called Adelphi Screamers. Many stories by Charles Dickens were also adapted for the stage here, including John Baldwin Buckstone's The Christening, a comic burletta, which opened on October 13, 1834, based on the story The Bloomsbury Christening. This is notable for being thought the first Dickens adaption performed. This was the first of many of Dickens's early works adapted for the stage of the Adelphi, including The Pickwick Papers as W. L. Rede's The Peregrinations of Pickwick; or, Boz-i- a-na, a three-act burletta first performed on April 3, 1837, Frederick Henry Yates's production of Nicholas Nickleby; or, Doings at Do-The-Boys Hall in November and December 1838, and Edward Stirling's two-act burletta The Old Curiosity Shop; or, One Hour from Humphrey's Clock (November and December 1840, January 1841). The theatre itself, makes a cameo appearance in The Pickwick PapersCharles Dickens' The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain at the Adelphi, in the Illustrated London News, Dec 30, 1848

The Adelphi came under the management of Madame Celeste and comedian Ben Webster, in 1844, and Buckstone was appointed its resident dramatist. Dramatisations of Dickens continued to be performed, including A Christmas Carol; or, Past, Present, and Future opening on February 5th; and Beckett's The Chimes: A Goblin Story of Some Bells that rang an Old Year out and a New One In. In 1848, The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain was performed.

The old theatre was demolished, and on December 26, 1858, The New Adelphi was opened and was considered an improvement on the cramped circumstances of the original, which had been described as a "hasty conversion from a tavern hall, permanently kept in its provisional state". The new theatre could seat 1,500 people, with standing room for another 500. The interior was lighted by a Stroud's Patent Sun Lamp, a brilliant array of gas mantles passed through a chandelier of cut-glass.

In the mid-1800s, John Lawrence Toole established his comedic reputation at the Adelphi. Also in the mid-1800s, the Adelphi hosted a number of French operettas, including La belle Hélène. In 1867, however, the Adelphi gave English comic opera a boost by hosting the first public performance of Arthur Sullivan's first opera, Cox and Box.

An actor who performed regularly at the Adelphi in the latter half of the nineteenth century, William Terriss, was stabbed to death on December 16, 1897, as recorded on a plaque on the wall by the stage door. Outside a neighbouring pub, a sign says that the killer was one of the theatre's stage hands, but Richard Archer Prince committed the murder. It has been said that Terriss' ghost haunts the theatre. Terriss' daughter was Ellaline Terriss, a famous actress, and her husband, actor-manager Seymour Hicks managed the Adelphi for some years at the end of the 19th century.

1848 ILN The Haunted Man

Charles Dickens' The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain at the Adelphi, in the Illustrated London News, Dec 30, 1848

20th centuryEdit

Cover of the Vocal Score of Seymour Hicks' The Earl and the Girl

Cover of Vocal Score

On September 11, 1901, the third theatre was opened as the Century Theatre, although the name reverted in 1904. This theatre was built by Frank Kirk to the design of Ernest Runtz. George Edwardes, the dean of London musical theatre, took over management of the theatre in 1908. In the early part of the 20th century, the Adelphi was home to a number of musical comedies, the most successful of which included The Earl and the Girl (1904), The Dairymaids (1907), The Quaker Girl (1910), The Boy (1917), Clowns in Clover (1927), and Mr. Cinders (1929).

The present Adelphi opened on December 3, 1930, redesigned in the Art Deco style by Ernest Schaufelberg. It was named the 'Royal Adelphi Theatre' and re-opened with the hit musical Ever Green, by Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers, based on the book Benn W. Levy. The operetta Balalaika (a revised version of the The Gay Hussars) played at the theatre in 1936, and in 1940 the theatre's name again reverted to 'The Adelphi'. The theatre continued to host comedy and musicals, including Bless The Bride (1947), Maggie May (1964), and A Little Night Music (1975), as well as dramas (see below for a list beginning in 1979).

A proposed redevelopment of Covent Garden by the GLC in 1968 saw the theatre under threat, together with the nearby Vaudeville, Garrick, Lyceum and Duchess theatres. An active campaign by Equity, the Musicians' Union, and theatre owners under the auspices of the Save London Theatres Campaign led to the abandonment of the scheme.

In 1993, Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group purchased the theatre and completely refurbished it prior to the opening of his adaptation of Sunset Boulevard. The 1998 video of Lloyd Webber's musical Cats was filmed at the theatre.

21st centuryEdit

In November 1997, the Adelphi became home to the London production of the popular American musical Chicago, which became the venue's longest ever running production during its eight-and-a-half year run, which also made it the longest running American musical in West End history. In April 2006, Chicago transferred to the Cambridge Theatre on Seven Dials where it continues to run.

Michael Grandage's brand new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Evita replaced the show, beginning previews on June 2, 2006 before completing a twelve month run on May 26, 2007.

Brian Wilson performed his album Pet Sounds for the last time in the UK at the Adelphi in November 2006.

From July 6, 2007, the Adelphi will be home to another Lloyd Webber revival, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The actor playing Joseph, Lee Mead, was cast by the BBC television show Any Dream Will Do, and will star alongside Preeya Kalidas and Dean Collinson.

The theatre is currently owned and managed by the Adelphi Theatre Company Limited, a partnership between Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group and Nederlander International.

The adjacent, numbers 409 and 410 Strand, were built in 1886-7 by the Gatti Brothers as the Adelphi Restaurant. The frontage remains essentially the same, but with plate glass windows, and, like the theatre, is a Grade II listed building.

The Adelphi Theatre currently shows Phantom of the Opera sequel, 'Love Never Dies', and tickets are on sale until at least May 2011.

Recent and present productionsEdit

  • My Fair Lady (October 25, 1979 - October 31, 1981)
  • The 1981-82 D'Oyly Carte Opera Company Season (November 11, 1981 - February 27, 1982)
  • The American Dream Machine (October 20, 1982 - December 1, 1982)
  • Marilyn'' (March 17, 1983 - July 30, 1983)
  • Poppy (November 12, 1983 - February 4, 1984)
  • Lena Horne - The Lady and Her Music (August 6, 1984 - September 29, 1984)
  • The Jungle Book (December 4, 1984 - January 12, 1985)
  • Me and My Girl (February 12, 1985 - January 16, 1993)
  • Sunset Boulevard (July 12, 1993 - April 1997)
  • Damn Yankees (June 4, 1997 - August 9, 1997)
  • Chicago (November 19, 1997 - April 22, 2006), starring (at different times) Ruthie Henshall, Ute Lemper, Jill Halfpenny, Denise van Outen, Brooke Shields, Linzi Hateley, Bonnie Langford, Jennifer Ellison, Josefina Gabrielle, Nigel Planer, Kevin Kennedy, Clive Rowe, David Hasselhoff, John Barrowman, Anita Dobson, Alison Moyet and Gaby Roslin
  • Evita (June 20, 2006 - May 26, 2007) by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, starring Elena Roger, Philip Quast and Matt Rawle
  • Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (July 6, 2007 - ) by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, starring Lee Mead, Preeya Kalidas and Dean Collinson

Nearby Tube StationsEdit

External linksEdit

The website is [1].

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