Her Majesty's Theatre History and Timeline
The Queen's Theatre opens

The Queen's Theatre opens

1705-01-01

The first theatre on the existing site opened in 1705, with the permission of Queen Anne. The venue was managed by John Vanbrugh and William Congreve. The first performance was an Italian opera 'The Loves of Ergasto'. The venue quickly became known for producing high quality opera and was the first of its kind in the UK, let alone London. Handel worked at The Queen's in 1711, conducting his first opera 'Rinaldo', and later 'Esther' - the first oratorio to be heard in England.

The opening of The King's Theatre

The opening of The King's Theatre

1791-01-01

The name of the building was changed in 1714 after the accession of King George I. The building was destroyed by a fire in 1789, and reopened in 1791 as The King's Theatre. Opera continued to be produced to a very high level, and British premieres of Mozart operas such as 'Cosi Fan Tutti' and 'The Magic Flute' were shown here. Italian opera featured heavily, with the premieres of 'Don Giovanni' in 1817 and 'The Barber of Seville' in 1818

The venue becomes the Her Majesty's Theatre

The venue becomes the Her Majesty's Theatre

1791-01-01

Following the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837, the theatre changed its name to 'Her Majesty's Theatre, Italian Opera House'. Stars of the Opera world flocked to the venue to perform for Queen Victoria, and a number of British premieres continued, including Beethoven's 'Fidelio'.

The new Her Majesty's Theatre opens

The new Her Majesty's Theatre opens

1897-01-01

The venue was demolished in 1892, before actor-manager Herbert Beerbohm Tree acquired the site and began to build his new venue. The Her Majesty's Theatre opened in 1897, beginning with a performance of Gilbert Parker's 'Seats of the Mighty'. Tree looked after the venue for 18 years, establishing the venue as one of London's primary playhouses. He mounted 46 productions of his own, including Shakespeare plays, adaptations of novels and smaller works.

The venue becomes His Majesty's with the accession of King Edward VII

The venue becomes His Majesty's with the accession of King Edward VII

1901-01-01

The theatre was renamed His Majesty's Theatre after Queen Victoria died. It was home to the Coronation Gala for King George V in 1911

The original production of Bernard Shaw's 'Pygmalion' opens

The original production of Bernard Shaw's 'Pygmalion' opens

1921-01-01

George Bernard Shaw's most prolific play 'Pygmailon' opens at the theatre starring Mrs Patrick Campell, alongside Tree as Henry Higgins. Shaw directed the production himself, which often resulted in enraged rehearsals. The production ran for 113 performances, and it continues to be revived and performed all over the world. The play was later adapted into the musical 'My Fair Lady' which opened at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in 1958.

Noel Coward's Musical 'Bitter Sweet' opens

Noel Coward's Musical 'Bitter Sweet' opens

1929-01-01

Noel Coward's 'Bitter Sweet' opened at the theatre in 1929 and went on to run for 967 performances. The three act operetta starred Peggy Wood as Sarah, with Georges Metaxa as Carl and is set in Austria-Hungary as a young woman elopes with her music teacher. The production was one of the most popular at the Her Majesty's Theatre, and went on to enjoy a run on Broadway as well as multiple revivals and even a screen version. Although it was quite different to any of Coward's plays, it contains some of his most memorable music.

J.B Priestley's 'The Good Companions' opens

J.B Priestley's 'The Good Companions' opens

1931-05-14

Following the success of his 1929 novel, J.B Priestley worked alongside Edward Knoblock to create a stage adaptation of this picaresque story. The production starred Edward Chapman, Edith Sharpe and John Gielgud in the lead roles and enjoyed a successful nine month run. The show returned to the Her Majesty's Theatre in 1974 in a musical adaptation, which starred John Mills and Judi Dench.

The Lerner and Lowe musical 'Brigadoon' has its British premiere

The Lerner and Lowe musical 'Brigadoon' has its British premiere

1949-04-14

Following the success of the Broadway production, 'Brigadoon' opened at the Her Majesty's Theatre where it ran for 685 performances. Set in a mythical Scottish village, the musical starred Philip Hanna as Tommy, Patricia Hughes as Fiona, James Jamieson as Harry, and Noele Gordon as Meg. The songs become popular hits, including 'Heather on the Hill', and 'Almost Like Being in Love'. The show featured spectacular choreography by Agnes de Mille, and was representative of the contemporary trend for book musicals such as 'Oklahoma!' transferring to the West End from New York.

Bye Bye Birdie opens

Bye Bye Birdie opens

1951-06-15

The Broadway production of 'Bye Bye Birdie' transferred to the Her Majesty's Theatre where it played for 268 performances. The Charles Strouse musical is a satire on American society set in 1958. The score featured songs such as 'The Telephone Hour' and 'Put on a Happy Face'. The original London cast featured Peter Marshall as Albert, Chita Rivera as Rosie, Angela Baddeley as Mae and Marty Wilde as Conrad Birdie.

Fiddler on the Roof opens

Fiddler on the Roof opens

1957-02-16

Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick's 'Fiddler on the Roof' was the next Broadway musical to open at the Her Majesty's Theatre where it played for 2,030 performances. The London production starred Chaim Topol as Tevye, who went on to reprise the role in the 1971 film adaptation. He was joined by Miriam Karlin as Golde. The original production was directed by Hal Prince and featured choreography by Jerome Robbins, and remains one of the most iconic musical productions of the 20th century. The musical has since been revived in London on numerous occasions.

West Side Story opens

West Side Story opens

1958-12-12

The European premiere of Leonard Bernstein's most famous musical 'West Side Story' was actually in Manchester, but the production transferred to the Her Majesty's Theatre London. Featuring choreography by Jerome Robbins, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and music by Bernstein, this dance based musical went on to be one of the world's most popular musicals on both screen and stage. The original London production played for 1,039 performances and starred George Chakiris as Riff, Marlys Watters as Maria, Don McKay as Tony, and Chita Rivera as Anita.

Company opens

Company opens

1972-01-18

Stephen Sondheim's concept musical 'Company' had its London premiere at the Her Majesty's Theatre. The show ran for 344 performances and featured Larry Kert, Elaine Stritch, Joy Franz, and Donna McKechnie. The original production was directed by Hal Prince and received good notices on both sides of the Atlantic. It was one of the more commercially successful Sondheim shows of the era, and George Furth's book was particularly praised.

Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'The Phantom of the Opera' opens

Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'The Phantom of the Opera' opens

1986-10-09

The era of 'mega-musicals' had begun, and Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'The Phantom of the Opera' opened at the Her Majesty's Theatre in 1986, produced by Cameron Mackintosh. The original production starred Michael Crawford as The Phantom, and Lloyd Webber's then wife Sarah Brightman as Christine Daae. The production was lavish and featured a large cast and orchestra, with many special effects and stage tricks. It won the Olivier Award for Best New Musical, and has since mounted productions all over the world. The show has been seen by over 130million people, and has a worldwide box office gross of $5.6billion, making it the most financially successful entertainment event to date. The show continues to run at the Her Majesty's Theatre to packed houses every night.

The Her Majesty's Theatre becomes a Really Useful Theatre

The Her Majesty's Theatre becomes a Really Useful Theatre

2000-01-01

Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group bought the theatre outright in 2000. They have maintained the building, including renovating the front of house and bathroom facilities to suit a modern day audience. The sound equipment used in the show has also been updated to keep 'The Phantom of the Opera' up to date.

The Phantom of the Opera celebrates 25th anniversary

The Phantom of the Opera celebrates 25th anniversary

2011-10-02

To celebrate 25 years of The Phantom of the Opera running in the West End, three special performances were filmed at the Royal Albert Hall. The last one was broadcast around the world. Tickets for the shows at the Royal Albert Hall sold out in just 5 hours, which affirmed the demand for the show despite having already been seen by millions of people.

Phantom celebrates 30 years haunting the West End

Phantom celebrates 30 years haunting the West End

2016-09-26

Andrew Lloyd Webber's classic The Phantom of the Opera celebrates 30 years haunting the West End with a special Gala performance. Starring Ben Forster as Phantom and Celinde Schoenmaker as Christine, the performance featured cameos from past Phantoms.

Past Shows at Her Majesty's Theatre