Adelphi Theatre

409-412 Strand, London, WC2R 0NS
Adelphi Theatre History and Timeline
The theatre was founded as the 'Sans Pareil'

The theatre was founded as the 'Sans Pareil'

1806-01-01

The Sans Pareil ("Without Compare") was the original name of the venue after it was opened by merchant John Scott and his daughter Jane. Jane Scott worked as a theatre manager, performer, and playwright and was instrumental in the founding of the venue. The pair created a theatrical company and by 1809 the theatre was licensed to perform all types of musical entertainment, pantomime, and burletta.

The theatre reopened as the Adelphi Theatre

The theatre reopened as the Adelphi Theatre

1819-10-18

After manager Jane Scott retired and moved to Surrey, the theatre was renamed the Adelphi, in a name take from the Adelphi Buildings opposite the site.  

The theatre becomes a playhouse

The theatre becomes a playhouse

1834-01-01

After providing much musical and variety entertainment, the venue became know for its drama productions. Melodramas premiered at the venue, and became known as 'Adelphi Screamers'. Charles Dickens began adapting works for the stage, including his own works such as 'The Pickwick Papers' which Victorian audiences enjoyed seeing live in a theatrical context. His most famous novella 'A Christmas Carol' was adapted for the stage for the first time in 1844.

The New Adelphi Theatre opens

The New Adelphi Theatre opens

1868-12-26

As the venue began to grow in popularity, the old venue was demolished and The New Adelphi was opened. The new building was considered an improvement on the rather cramped interior of its predecessor, which had earned a reputation as feeling rather like a tavern hall. The new theatre could seat 1,500 people, and included standing room for another 500 people. One of the main featured was the chandelier, lit by a Stroud's Patent Sun Lamp. 

The Age of the Musicals

The Age of the Musicals

1901-09-11

The venue closed once again and was reopened for a third time under the name 'the Century Theatre'. This name did not stick however, and was reverted back to the Adelphi in 1904. The latest venue was built by Frank Kirk following the designs of Ernest Runtz. The dean of London musical theatre George Edwardes became manager of the venue, helping it start a new trend for musical comedies in the early 1900s. Many successful musicals premiered at the Adelphi, including "The Earl and the Girl" (1904), "The Quaker Girl" (1910), "The Boy" (1917), and "Mr. Cinders" (1929).

The Present Day Adelphi Theatre opens

The Present Day Adelphi Theatre opens

1930-12-03

The present day Adelphi Theatre opened on 3 December 1930. The building was redesigned in an Art Deco style by Ernest Schaufelberg, with beautiful features in the auditorium and main foyer. The Royal Adelphi Theatre re-opened with the hit musical 'Ever Green', written by Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers, based on the book Benn W. Levy. The show was the last Rodgers and Hart musical to be written in London, and was directed by Frank Collins with choreography by Buddy Bradley and Billy Pierce. It starred dancer Jessie Matthews and comedian Sonnie Hale and was most remembered for the dance sequence using the first stage revolve in the West End.

Bless the Bride opens

Bless the Bride opens

1947-04-26

Vivian Ellis and A. P. Herbert's jolly musical opened at the Adelphi, enjoying a 3 year run of over 800 performances. Despite opening in the same year as American hit 'Oklahoma!', it was not overshadowed, and was incredibly popular with audiences. The original cast included Lizbeth Webb and Georges Guetary and featured heavily stylised scenery by Tanya Moiseiwitsch. The song "This Is My Lovely Day" became one of the BBC's most requested songs of all time.

The Music Man opens

The Music Man opens

1961-03-16

Meredith Wilson's hit Broadway musical about a con-artist band leader who dupes a small Iowa town into creating a boy's band opened at the Adelphi after a brief run at the Bristol Hippodrome. The production starred Van Johnson, Patricia Lambert, C. Denier Warren, Ruth Kettlewell and Dennis Waterman. The show featured the songs 'Seventy Six Trombones' and 'Till There Was You' which were quickly absorbed into the hearts and minds of theatre goers.

A Little Night Music opens

A Little Night Music opens

1975-04-15

Stephen Sondheim's musical 'A Little Night Music' has its European premiere at the Adelphi Theatre where it ran for 406 performances. The romantic musical was based on the Bergman film 'Smiles on a Summer's Night' and featured a score written entirely in variations of 3/4 waltz time. The London production starred Jean Simmons, Joss Ackland, David Kernan, Liz Robertson, and Diane Langton. Hermione Gingold reprised her role as Madame Armfeldt after opening on Broadway in 1973.

Cameron Mackintosh's revival of 'My Fair Lady' opens

Cameron Mackintosh's revival of 'My Fair Lady' opens

1979-10-25

Producer Cameron Mackintosh presented a revival of the classic Lerner and Loewe musical, directed by Alan J Lerner himself. The show featured choreography by Gillian Lynne, and starred Tony Britton as Henry Higgins, Liz Robertson as Eliza, and Dame Anna Neagle Mrs Higgins. Both Robertson and Britton were nominated for Olivier Awards. The production ran for two years and enjoyed a successful UK tour.

The flop musical 'Marilyn' opens

The flop musical 'Marilyn' opens

1983-03-17

This short lived musical was one of the biggest flops in West End history. Directed by Larry Fuller, the musical about the life of Marilyn Monroe featured an original score by Mort Garson, and book and lyrics by Jacques Wilson. The show depicted the highs and lows of the popular entertainer, including her relationship with her mother and husbands Joe Dimaggio and Arthur Miller. The musical was not well received by critics, and ran for only 156 performances. Stephanie Lawrence starred as the iconic actress.

Me and My Girl opens

Me and My Girl opens

1985-02-12

Comedian Stephen Fry updated the book for Noel Gay's lively 1930s musical which ran for 8 years at the Adelphi Theatre where it clocked up over 3,000 performances. The original production starred Robert Lindsay as Bill Snibson, Emma Thompson, and Frank Thornton and went on to win two Olivier Awards for Best Musical and Best Actor for Lindsay. Following the show's success in London, the production transferred to Broadway's Marquis Theatre, where it enjoyed a further 1,040 performances and was nominated for 13 Tony Awards.

Sunset Boulevard opens

Sunset Boulevard opens

1993-07-12

Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical based on the film of the same name ran for 1,530 performances at the Adelphi Theatre. Directed by Trevor Nunn with choreography by Bob Avian, the musical continued to make headlines and was one of the most expensive musical productions to date. Patti luPone starred as the original Norma Desmond, before dramatically leaving the company after being fired by Lloyd Webber. Replacements in the role included Elaine Paige, Petula Clarke, Betty Buckley and Rita Moreno. Kevin Anderson, Meredith Braun and Daniel Benzali co-stared in the original cast. The show went on to open in LA and on Broadway and is one of Lloyd Webber's most successful musicals of recent times.

Chicago the Musical opens

Chicago the Musical opens

1997-11-19

Following a hit revival on Broadway, 'Chicago: The Musical' opened in London's West End at the Adelphi Theatre, where it would remain for 9 years. The production was directed by Walter Bobbie, designed by John Lee Beatty, and featured choreography in the style of Bob Fosse by Ann Reinking. The original London company included Ute Lemper as Velma, Ruthie Henshall as Roxie Hart, Nigel Planer as Amos Hart and Henry Goodman as Billy Flynn. Famous replacements in the lead roles over the next 9 years included: Marti Pellow, David Hasselhoff, Denise Van Outen, Claire Sweeney, Bonnie Langford, Jennifer Ellison, Alison Moyet and Gaby Roslin. The production won the Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical. The show transferred to the Cambridge Theatre in 2006.

Damn Yankees opens

Damn Yankees opens

1997-06-04

The hit Broadway musical inspired by Faustian legend enjoyed a brief revival at the Adelphi Theatre, transferring from a successful Broadway run. The production was directed by Jack O'Brien and featured choreography by Rob Marshall, assisted by his sister, Kathleen Marshall. Jerry Lewis, who had enjoyed his Broadway debut in the role of Applegate, opened the production at the Adelphi.

Evita the Musical opens

Evita the Musical opens

2006-06-20

Director Michael Grandage mounted the first London revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Evita' which opened at the Adelphi Theatre, running for less than a year. The production starred Elena Rodgers as Eva Peron, with Philip Quast as Peron and Matt Rawle as Che. Lloyd Webber provided new orchestrations for the production, giving the music a more authentic sound. Rob Ashford choreographed the show, and it went on to receive positive notices. The production transferred to Broadway in 2012, starring Elena Rodgers once again in the title role.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat opens

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat opens

2007-07-06

Andrew Lloyd Webber's first musical was revived at the Adelphi Theatre in a brand new production. Following a televised nationwide search to find 'the people's Joseph', Lee Mead was cast in the title role. The production was initially planned for a limited 6 month period, but sold so well that the contract was extended, and the first 3 months were completely sold out. The show took in £10million worth of pre-sale tickets before even opening. Lee Mead left the show in 2009 and was replaced by Gareth Gates, who proved significantly less popular and the production closed 4 months later.

Love Never Dies opens

Love Never Dies opens

2010-03-09

The sequel to Lloyd Webber's 1986 work 'The Phantom of the Opera' opened at the Adelphi Theatre to scathing reviews and mixed audience feedback. Quickly dubbed 'Paint Never Dries', the production underwent numerous changes and rewrites in the first few months. Despite the talents of the original cast, which included Sierra Boggess as Christine Daae, Ramin Karimloo as The Phantom and Liz Robertson as Mme. Giry, the show struggled on for 18 months, with new direction by Bill Kenwright and updated lyrics from Charles Hart. The show was rumoured to transfer to Broadway, but instead opened a new production in Melbourne.

One Man, Two Guvnors transfers from the National Theatre

One Man, Two Guvnors transfers from the National Theatre

2011-11-21

The National Theatre's sell out production of 'One Man, Two Guvnors' transferred to the Adelphi for a limited run. Written by Richard Bean, the comedy is adapted from the Italian play 'Servant of Two Masters'. The play was directed by Artistic Director of the National Nicholas Hytner, and starred James Corden in the lead role of Francis Henshall. It went on to be a critical and commercial success, gaining 5 star reviews from many critics. It won the Evening Standard Award for Best Ne Play in 2011, later transferring to Broadway and the Haymarket Theatre in London's West End.

Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street transfers from Chichester Festival Theatre

Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street transfers from Chichester Festival Theatre

2012-03-10

Sondheim's bloodthirsty musical 'Sweeney Todd' transferred from the Chichester Festival Theatre, in a brand new production directed by Jonathan Church. The show was the first commercial West End revival of a Sondheim musical, and starred Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton as Todd and Mrs Lovett. The production won much critical acclaim, and both leads took home the Olivier Award for their performance. Comedian Jason Manford joined the production for a limited period over the summer, replacing Robert Burt in the role of Pirelli. The show enjoyed a limited run, and was seen to be a huge success.

The Bodyguard the Musical opens

The Bodyguard the Musical opens

2012-11-06

Thea Sharrock directs a brand new stage adaptation of the hit film 'The Bodyguard' which starred Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. The original production starred Heather Headley in the role of Rachel Marron, who was later replaced by Beverley Knight who in turn was replaced by Alexandra Burke. The musical features a string of Houston hits, such as 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody', 'Queen of the Night' and the powerful 'I Will Always Love You'. The production earned mainly positive reviews.

Made in Dagenham opens

Made in Dagenham opens

2014-10-09

Starring Gemma Arterton as leading lady Rita O'Grady, Made in Dagenham arrives at the Adelphi Theatre for its theatrical world premier. Adapted from the acclaimed film of the same name by Richard Bean the stage version of made in Dagenham is directed by Rupert Goold with designs by Bunnie Christie.

Kinky Boots opens

Kinky Boots opens

2015-08-21

Kinky Boots the musical opened on 21st August 2015 at the Adelphi Theatre as a transfer from Broadway. The show is based on the hit film of the same name, in which a drag Queen called Lola helps out a struggling shoe manufacturer. Singer songwriter Cyndi Lauper has written an original score for the production.

Kinky Boots becomes an Olivier Award-winning musical

Kinky Boots becomes an Olivier Award-winning musical

2016-04-03

Kinky Boots becomes an award-winning musical, swiping the Olivier Award for Best New Musical. Matt Henry's star-turn as Lola also earned him the Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical.

Cast changes at Kinky Boots

Cast changes at Kinky Boots

2016-08-15

Kinky Boots at the Adelphi Theatre undergoes cast changes, as Killian Donnelly and Amy Lennox make an exit. New cast members will include David Hunter as Charlie, Elena Skye as Lauren, Alan Mehdizadeh as Don and Cordelia Farnworth as Nicola, with Matt Henry continuing his award-winning performance as Lola.

Kinky Boots releases London cast recording

Kinky Boots releases London cast recording

2016-04-01

Smash-hit musical Kinky Boots releases a cast recording, featuring the entire original London cast on April 4th 2016. Killian Donnelly, Matt Henry and Amy Lennox all feature on the recording. Featuring an original score by Cyndi Lauper, Kinky Boots continues to impress audiences!

Alexandra Burke replaces Beverley Knight

Alexandra Burke replaces Beverley Knight

2014-06-02

X Factor winner Alexandra Burke replaces Beverley Knight in the starring role in 'The Bodyguard' until the show closes this September.