Queen's Theatre History and Timeline

Critics praised the venue

Critics praised the venue

1907-10-08

Two days after the theatre opened The Stage published a glowing review of the building, praising the colour scheme in particular. ‘The colour scheme of the walls and roof is white and gold, while green is the hue of the carpets, hangings and upholstery, and of the very charming velvet tableau curtain.’

The theatre opened

The theatre opened

1907-10-08

The Queen’s Theatre was designed by W.G.R. Sprague in an ornate Edwardian style and opened on 8th October 1907. It was a twin to the Hicks Theatre just next door, which is now the Gielgud Theatre. Its first production was the comedic 'The Sugar Bowl' by Madeleine Lucette Ryley, which wasn’t well received and ran for just over 30 performances.

Tango Teas

Tango Teas

1913-03-04

Tango Teas became a hugely popular, if not slightly odd, pastime during the early 1910s. The Queens Theatre hosted regular Tango Teas, where the Stalls seats were removed and replaced with tables and chairs. People had high tea whilst watching professional tango dancers perform on the stage.

Potash and Pelmutter

Potash and Pelmutter

1914-08-13

The Queen's Theatre didn't have any notable shows until 'Potash and Pelmutter' in 1914, which was based on two Jewish comedy characters of the same name. Before then it had mostly relied on the Tango Teas to gain a good reputation in the West End. The production was by Charles Klein and Montague Glass and ran on Broadway for over 400 performances before transferring to London.

The controversial play 'The Fanatics'

The controversial play 'The Fanatics'

1920-08-10

Miles Malleson's play 'The Fanatics' played in 1920, when people were still reeling from the brutality of WWI. His play was extremely anti-war and insulted many people who had lost loved ones in the conflict. It was also one of the first prominent plays to discuss marital problems and even sex. Malleson is best remembered for his later appearances as an actor in British comedies during the 1930s and 1940s.

The theatre's famous visitors

The theatre's famous visitors

1920-01-01

The theatre enjoyed a long run of hugely famous visitors during the 1920s and 1930s, including Fred and Adale Astaire, Tallulah Bankhead, Jack Hawkins and Gertrude Lawrence.

The Trial of Mary Dugan

The Trial of Mary Dugan

1928-03-06

The Trial of Mary Dugan by Bayard Veiller opens, starring Genevieve Tobin in the title role. It receives good reviews and runs for 310 performances. It is later made into a film.

John Gielgud plays Hamlet

John Gielgud plays Hamlet

1930-01-01

A young John Gielgud, considered one of the best Shakespearian actors of all time, brings his Hamlet to the Queen’s Theatre from The Old Vic. This production established him in a role he would reprise regularly.

Moonlight in Silver

Moonlight in Silver

1934-01-01

Moonlight in Silver by Clemence Dane, the pseudonym of Winifred Ashton, runs at the Queen’s Theatre. The play stars Gertrude Lawrence and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. The pair are known for their very public relationship though Lawrence went on to marry producer Richard Aldrich.

Short Story opens

Short Story opens

1935-01-01

Robert Morley, known more for his acting, was also a writer. His first play Short Story, starring Marie Tempest, Sybil Thorndike, Margaret Rutherford and Rex Harrison, ran at the Queen’s Theatre.

Dear Octopus' by Dodie Smith

Dear Octopus' by Dodie Smith

1938-09-01

‘Dear Octopus’ by Dodie Smith opened on 15th September 1938 and ran for 373 performances until September 1939, when the run was forced to a halt because of World War II. Smith was a successful playwright and novelist, penning ‘The Hundred’ and ‘One Dalmations’, ‘I Capture the Castle’ and ‘The Starlight Barking’.

John Gielgud launches own company

John Gielgud launches own company

1937-09-01

Actor John Gielgud sets up a theatre company at the Queen’s Theatre to launch himself as a director. He stages a season with Richard II, The School for Scandal, Three Sisters and The Merchant of Venice. Michael Redgrave, Anthony Quayle, Alec Guinness, Peggy Ashcroft and George Devine are amongst those cast.

Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca

Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca

1940-04-05

George Devine's production of Daphne du Maurier's play Rebecca opens at the Queen's Theatre after the theatre was initially closed due to the war. The cast features Celia Johnson, Margaret Rutherford and Owen Nares. The production closes abruptly when the theatre is bombed during the Blitz.

The Blitz damaged the theatre

The Blitz damaged the theatre

1940-09-24

The theatre was heavily damaged on September 24th 1940 during the World War II blitz. The show on the time was Daphne du Maurier's ‘Rebecca’ with Celia Johnson, Owen Nares and Margaret Rutherford. The façade was totally destroyed and had to be rebuilt, as did the front of house areas and the back of both circle balconies. The theatre remained closed for almost 20 years following the bombing.

It reopened with John Gielgud's 'Ages of Man'

It reopened with John Gielgud's 'Ages of Man'

1959-07-18

The theatre officially reopened on July the 8th 1959 with John Gielgud's one man show 'Ages of Man'. It features various Shakespeare speeches organised chronologically to show a man’s progression through life, and takes the title from the famous ‘all the world's a stage’ speech from ‘As You Like It.’

The theatre was rebuilt

The theatre was rebuilt

1959-01-01

Westwood, Sons and Partner began rebuilding the theatre 20 years after the bombing. They designed a much more modern frontage and foyer, and again The Stage reported on the rebuild. In their 11th April 1957 they said a 'contemporary design with an all-glass frontage is planned by the architect Bryan Westwood for the rebuilding of the Queen's, Shaftesbury Avenue, which will be London's first post-war theatre construction.’

Stop the World I Want to Get Off

Stop the World I Want to Get Off

1961-07-20

Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse's musical Stop the World I Want to Get Off, runs for 478 performances before transferring to Broadway. Following the life of a man called Littlechap, it tells the story of his discontent and eventual reconciliation with his life’s path.

Dietrich in London

Dietrich in London

1964-11-23

Marlene Dietrich appears in a short-run cabaret at the Queen’s Theatre. A recording made on the closing night of is released as the album ‘Dietrich in London’.

Queen's / 1914 - A Suite in Three Keys

Queen's / 1914 - A Suite in Three Keys

1966-01-01

Noël Coward makes his final West End appearance in A Suite in Three Keys, a trilogy of plays that are among the last he wrote before his death in 1973.

The National Theatre

The National Theatre

1966-08-01

Laurence Olivier's newly-founded National Theatre stages their first West End season, including productions of The Royal Hunt of the Sun and Othello, at the Queen’s Theatre.

The theatre became listed

The theatre became listed

1972-06-01

In June 1972 the building was registered as Grade II Listed by English Heritage, owing to its historical and architectural interest.

Noel Coward dies

Noel Coward dies

1973-03-26

Maggie Smith and her husband Robert Stephens are both in Noel Coward’s Private Lives, directed by John Gielgud, when news of Coward’s death breaks. The theatre turns off its exterior lights in tribute.

Saturday Sunday Monday

Saturday Sunday Monday

1974-10-08

Franco Zeffirelli directs Joan Plowright in Eduardo de Filippo’s play Saturday Sunday Monday. The National Theatre production first opened at the Old Vic before transferring to the Queen’s Theatre in the West End.

Another Country

Another Country

1982-03-01

Playwright Julian Mitchell’s work Another Country, based on the life of spy Guy Burgess, transfers to the Queen’s Theatre from Greenwich Theatre. It stars Rupert Everett and a young Kenneth Branagh. Daniel Day Lewis and Colin Firth take over the roles later in the run, and the play is made into a film.

Wonderful Town

Wonderful Town

1986-08-01

Leonard Bernstein's 1953 musical set in New York, Wonderful Town, wins both Olivier and Variety Club Awards. The production stars Maureen Lipman.

The Redgraves appear in Three Sisters

The Redgraves appear in Three Sisters

1990-01-01

Real-life sisters Vanessa and Lynn Redgrave, along with their niece Jemma appear in Chekhov’s play Three Sisters. This is the first time the sisters had acted together on stage.

Stephen Sondheim's Passion

Stephen Sondheim's Passion

1996-01-01

Stephen Sondheim's musical love triangle Passion runs for 232 performances, netting performer Maria Friedman an Olivier Award for her portrayal of the character Fosca.

Lady in the Van

Lady in the Van

1999-01-01

Maggie Smith appears in Alan Bennett’s Lady in the Van, a play based on the true story of an eccentric woman who parked her van in the playwright’s drive and lived there for many years.

The Hobbit

The Hobbit

2001-11-28

‘The Hobbit’ ran from 28th November 2001 to 9th February 2002, adapted by Glyn Robbins from J. R. R. Tolkien's treasured novel.

'Contact' the musical

'Contact' the musical

2002-10-23

‘Contact’, a unique ‘dance musical’ by Susan Stroman and John Weildman ran between 23rd October 2002 and 10th May 2003. The show arrived at the Queen’s Theatre after winning the 2000 Tony Award for Best Musical, which was controversial because the show doesn’t contain original music or live signing. As a result a new award was introduced the following year for Best Special Theatrical Event.

South Africa comes to the Queen's

South Africa comes to the Queen's

2002-02-26

26 February 2002 – 18 May 2002: The Mysteries has a limited run at the Queen’s Theatre in this adaptation by Broomhill Opera and Spier Arts Festival. The company set the show in South Africa and cast the company from an open call of South African township residents.

Umoja: The Spirit of Togetherness

Umoja: The Spirit of Togetherness

2002-06-18

Umoja: The Spirit of Togetherness by Todd Twala, Thenbi Nyandeni and Ian von Memerty has a limited run, showcasing traditional music and dance from South Africa.

Cyberjam

Cyberjam

2003-09-23

Cyberjam, A 36-member cast from America bring this unique dance, gymnastics and music show to the Queen’s Theatre for a limited run. Critics are unimpressed with the almost completely wordless show.

The Rocky Horror Show

The Rocky Horror Show

2003-06-23

‘The Rocky Horror Show’ ran between 23rd June 2003 and 5th July 2003, starring Jonathan Wilkes and John Stalker.

'Les Miserables' moved to the Queens

'Les Miserables' moved to the Queens

2004-04-12

Les Misérables, the beloved musical by Alain Boubil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, opened on the 12th April 2004 and is the current show at the Queen’s Theatre. It transferred to the Queen’s after running for 18 years at the nearby Palace Theatre. It’s the longest running musical in the world and celebrated its 20th Anniversary on 8th October 2005.

The RSC comes to the Queen's

The RSC comes to the Queen's

2004-01-14

The Royal Shakespeare Company bring Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and John Fletcher’s The Tamer Tamed to London for part of the winter.

Les Mis turns 1

Les Mis turns 1

2005-04-12

Les Misérables celebrates its first year at the Queen’s Theatre after transferring from the Palace Theatre.

Major cast changes at Les Mis

Major cast changes at Les Mis

2008-06-23

Some big names take over in Les Misérables. Adult Eponine is taken over by Nancy Sullivan, from the BBC’s hit show “I’d Do Anything”. Leanne Dobinson returns to the show as Cosette. She most recently appeared in the top 10 of BBC’s “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria”.

Les Misérables celebrates its 5th birthday

Les Misérables celebrates its 5th birthday

2009-04-23

Les Misérables has run at The Queen’s Theatre for 5 years, marking its continued success after transferring from the Palace Theatre.

Les Mis celebrates 25 years since opening at the Barbican

Les Mis celebrates 25 years since opening at the Barbican

2010-10-08

Les Misérables celebrates its 25th birthday. The musical first opened at The Barbican, then transferred to the West End.

11000 performances

11000 performances

2012-06-01

Currently the longest running musical in the West End, Les Misérables celebrates its 11,000th performance in London.

An Olivier win for Les Mis

An Olivier win for Les Mis

2014-04-23

Les Misérables producer Cameron Mackintosh presents the cast and crew of the show with the BBC Radio 2 Audience Award they won at this year’s Olivier Awards shortly after the show celebrated its 10th year at the Queen’s Theatre.

Les Miserables 30th Anniversary Gala

Les Miserables 30th Anniversary Gala

2015-10-08

Les Miserables celebrated their 30th Anniversary with a special Gala performance at the Queen's Theatre in London. All tickets were sold through a mobile lottery scheme that raised money for Save the Children Syria Children's Appeal. Colm Wilkinson, Roger Allam, Frances Ruffelle, Alfie Boe, John Owen-Jones and Geronimo Rauch featured in a special anniversary finale.

WhatsOnStage Award win

WhatsOnStage Award win

2016-02-23

Les Misérables wins the WhatsOnStage Award for Best West End show. Cameron Mackintosh collects the award in person and the entire cast perform ‘One Day More’, one of the show’s most popular numbers.

Killian Donnelly and Carly Stenson

Killian Donnelly and Carly Stenson

2017-06-12

Major cast changes in Les Misérables mean Killian Donnelly returns to London after a stint in Kinky Boots on Broadway to play Jean Valjean. Former “Hollyoaks” actor Carly Stenson will take on Fantine and Hayden Tee returns to the show as Javert.

The Devil's Disciple

The Devil's Disciple

1907-10-14

George Bernard Shaw’s The Devil’s Disciple opens at the Savoy Theatre. The play is later adapted for TV, film and radio, proving the popularity of the writer and his work.

Fallen Fairies

Fallen Fairies

1909-01-01

Theatre manager C H Worman produced Gilbert’s final opera, Fallen Fairies. It runs for 51 performances.