Next Show: Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird
First preview: 27th May 2021
Booking until: 6th November 2021
Running time: Awaiting information
Address: 35 Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1D 6AR
Air Conditioning: No – Air cooling system only
Current Owner: Delfont Mackintosh Theatres
Box Office: +44 (0) 844 482 5130
Discounts, Day seats, Rush tickets & Lotteries
Box Office: +44 (0) 844 482 5130
Stage Door: +44 (0) 20 7292 1320
Many of London’s theatres are accessed from below or above street level. If you need to avoid steps, it is advisable to contact the theatre directly by telephone or email as they will be able to advise you on which seats are most easily accessed. Many have specially adapted wheelchair spaces.
Theatres may be able to provide additional facilities for customers with a hearing or visual impairment and some shows may also offer specific, adapted performances. It’s best to check with the venue directly via one of the following methods:
Access Bookings: Call +44 (0) 844 482 5130
Society of London Theatre also offers useful information for visitors with a disability or specific access need.
Nearest Tube: Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus
Buses: Number 14, 19, 38
Check out Transport for London’s excellent TFL Journey Planner
You’ll find the Gielgud Theatre in a cluster of theatres on London’s main theatre thoroughfare, Shaftesbury Avenue. Originally named the Hicks Theatre, this opened on 27th December 1906. The first production was The Beauty of Bath (a transfer from the Adelphi theatre) by Seymour Hicks and Cosmo Hamilton. The show starred Ellaline Terris and Hicks himself.
The theatre was designed by W G R Sprague – one of a pair of theatres designed by Sprague here. The Hicks Theatre opened first, followed on 8th October 1907 by the Queen’s Theatre (now the Sondheim Theatre).
Both theatres have frontages of Portland stone and were constructed by Walter Wallis of Balham. The site was previously occupied by an estate agent, occupying 35-49 Shaftesbury Avenue. Seventeen houses were also demolished to make way for both theatres.
These theatres were originally twins, but the façade of the neighbouring Queen’s (Sondheim) Theatre changed dramatically following significant bomb damage to the building during World War II.
Upon its 1907 opening, critics praised the generous spacing of seating – even then, theatres were often notoriously cramped. Interiors were in ivory, white and gold, with warm pink ‘Rose du Barri’ upholstery, wallpaper, carpets and curtains. A high degree of attention was also paid to fire safety features of the building.
The theatre originally accommodated c.1200 seated, with room for an additional 260 standing, on three levels. The theatre was fully electrified from its opening. The auditorium we see today still have similarities to the original design, although some boxes were removed from the rear of the Upper Circle in 1950 and the capacity is now reduced to a little under 1,000.
In 1907, another Hicks musical, My Darling, followed The Beauty of Bath. This in turn was succeeded by the original London run of Brewster’s Millions starring Gerald du Maurier (father of author Daphne du Maurier). In 1909, Ellaline Terriss (daughter of murdered actor William Terriss who is said to haunt the Adelphi Theatre on London’s Strand) was taken ill during the run of another musical, The Dashing Little Duke. Hicks gallantly stepped into the role until his wife was well enough to return – possibly one of the only times a husband and wife have shared a West End leading role.
In July 1909, the Hicks Theatre was renamed The Globe Theatre (not to be confused with another Globe Theatre on Newcastle Street which was demolished in 1902 as part of the redevelopment of the Aldwych). A new manager, Charles Frohman, succeeded Hicks, reopening the theatre in 1909 with a production of His Borrowed Plumes, written by Winston Churchill’s mother, Lady Randolph Churchill.
In 1913, the theatre tempted fate with a production titled The Clock Goes Round. The show opened on Friday 13th with a cast of 13 characters. It closed after just 13 performances.
The theatre remained open during the first World War, enjoying success with Peg O’ My Heart. In 1925, Noël Coward’s Fallen Angels debuted here and then in 1935, Call it a Day by Dodie Smith, enjoyed a run of 509 performances. In 1938, John Gielgud directed and starred in a ‘definitive revival’ of another Coward comedy, The Importance of Being Earnest.
In 1949, Gielgud returned again with his production of The Lady’s Not for Burning. In 1960, A Man For All Seasons premiered here, and then in 1966, the theatre’s (then) longest running show, Terence Frisby’s There’s a Girl in my Soup opened, running for 1064 performances.
In April 1983, the long run record was broken by Olivier Award-winning comedy Daisy Pulls It Off, which was written by Denise Deegan and produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber, running for 1,180 performances. This was followed by another box office hit, Lettice and Lovage, starring Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack.
The theatre remained as The Globe until 1994, when the name changed to the Gielgud Theatre. The 1994 name change was partly in celebration of Sir John Gielgud who appeared here in ‘The Prisoner’, but also to avoid confusion with the newly recreated Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on the Southbank.
In the 1990s, notable successes included the premier of Alan Ayckbourn’s Man of the Moment, a transfer of Design for Living starring Rachel Weisz, and a rewritten Tell Me on a Sunday starring Denise Van Outen.
The noughties saw movie-star led box office success with The Graduate starring Kathleen Turner, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest starring Christian Slater, and Equus starring Daniel Radcliffe. The theatre continues to attract major stars throughout the 2010s, with productions of The Audience starring Helen Mirren, Blithe Spirit starring Angela Lansbury and Company featuring Patti Lupone.
The theatre has been extensively refurbished several times, notably in 1987 and 2008. It is notable for its circular Regency staircase, oval gallery and tower.
The theatre is also notable for its famous theatre cat, Beerbohm (named after actor/manager Herbert Beerbohm Tree), who caught mice here for two decades and was renowned for attacking props rifling through actors’ possessions whilst they were on stage, and occasionally appearing unexpectedly onstage, forcing actors into some hurried improvisation. When Beerbohm the theatre cat died in 1995 aged 20, so famous had be become that his obituary made the front page of entertainment industry newspaper The Stage.
The Gielgud Theatre is now owned and operated by Delfont Macintosh Theatres.
- Upstart Crow
- Girl from the North Country
- Les Misérables: the All-Star Staged Concert
- Imperium Parts I & II
- The Ferryman
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
- Blithe Spirit
- Strangers on a Train
- Private Lives
- The Audience
- Chariots of Fire
- The Ladykillers
- Yes, Prime Minister
- Lend me a Tenor
- The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
- Yes, Prime Minister
- Hair The Musical
- Avenue Q
- Bill Bailey – Tinselworm
- Six Characters in Search of an Author
- God of Carnage
- Carl Rosa Company: The Pirates of Penzance
- Carl Rosa Company: Iolanthe
- Carl Rosa Company: The Mikado
- Nicholas Nickleby
- The Canterbury Tales
- The Crucible
- And Then There Were None
- Some Girls
- Don Carlos
- One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
- We Happy Few
- Barbara Cook’s Broadway
- All’s Well The Ends Well
- Tell Me on a Sunday
- RSC Jacobean Season: Eastward Ho!
- RSC Jacobean Season: Edward III
- RSC Jacobean Season: The Roman Actor
- RSC Jacobean Season: The Island Princess
- RSC Jacobean Season: The Malcontent
- Humble Boy
- The Graduate
- Continuous Currents (Irie Dance Theatre)
- A Song at Twilight
Disclaimer: We take care to provide accurate information. Records prior to internet age can be difficult to verify so we only list productions back as far as the year 2000, however we hold some records prior to this date offline. If you would like more information, or are aware of any errors, please contact us here. “One night only” productions and private theatre hires are not listed.
Arthur Lloyd’s Theatre Website offers an encyclopaedic insight into the history of the West End’s theatres.
Theatricalia is a database of past & future theatre productions.
Thisistheatre also offers interesting insights into the history of London’s theatres.
The Theatres Trust offers information and support for our nation’s theatres.