Prince of Wales Theatre, London
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A tall structure looming over the Oxendon Street/Coventry Street crossroads, on the inside the renovated Prince of Wales is a basic, modern theatre that is purely functional in fitting its 1100 patrons on just two levels of seating for huge musical productions.
Nearest Tube Station:
Directions From Tube:
(2mins) Take Coventry Street and the theatre is be past the London Trocadero on your right.
(Haymarket) 3, 6, 12, 13, 19, 23, 38, 88, 139
Night Bus Numbers:
(Haymarket) 6, 12, 23, 88, 139, N3, N13, N18, N19, N38, N97, N136, N550, N551
Nearest Rail Station:
Nearest Car Park:
Leicester Square, Whitcomb Street (1min)
Prince of Wales Theatre
31 Coventry Street, London, W1D 6AS
The Prince of Wales Theatre was not the first to carry its name, and that was no coincidence. Its first manager previously managed a Prince of Wales Theatre a few streets away and had so much success in a production there that he used the profits to build this new venue, opening in 1884 simply as ‘The Prince’s Theatre’. The name change took place only two years later when the original Prince of Wales Theatre closed.
Its earliest hits were comic operas leading into the 1900s, but it also popularised the unusual art of mime, improving its crude early public image. The Ivor Novello/Noel Coward-penned revues of the 1920s evolved into slightly more risqué business when the Prince of Wales Theatre became ‘London’s Folies Bergere’, providing a Parisian circus entertainment that was so popular it paid for the theatre to be rebuilt in 1937.
This second theatre witnessed some historic moments, including the stage production of what later became the James Stewart film Harvey, its longest-running production record broken twice (first by The World of Suzie Wong in 1961 with 832 performances, and then by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Aspects of Love in 1992 with 1,325 performances) and some of the best Broadway musical imports, including Funny Girl, Sweet Charity, West Side Story and Rent. In 2003 however, this theatre was shut down and given a £7.5 million 21stcentury makeover for a lavish reopening to welcome Mamma Mia! in 2004. The ABBA musical has since broken the record for the Prince of Wales’s longest-running show.
Gracie Fields laid the foundation stone for the current building of the Prince of Wales in 1937.
The Prince of Wales Theatre was named after the prince who later became King Edward VII.
The theatre hosted Barbara Streisand in her legendary role as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl in 1966.
When Mamma Mia! transferred here in 2004, Prince Charles, the current Prince of Wales, attended the inaugural performance.
The theatre screened the premiere of Charlie Chaplin’s controversial film The Great Dictator in 1941. The manager was fined for screening the film, as it was banned at the time.
Former stage manager Edgar Bruce is believed to haunt the left wing of the stage.
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