Prince Edward Theatre
Current Show: Mary Poppins
First previewed: 23rd October 2019
Booking until: 8th January 2023
Running time: 2h 50m including interval
Address: Old Compton Street, London W1D 4HS
Air Conditioning: Awaiting confirmation
Current Owner: Delfont Mackintosh Theatres
Box Office: +44 (0) 844 482 5155 (calls charged)
Discounts, Day seats, Rush tickets & Lotteries
Box Office: +44 (0) 844 482 5155 (calls charged)
Stage Door: +44 (0) 20 7440 3020
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 5137 (calls charged)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org – more information is available on the Delfont Mackintosh website.
Society of London Theatre also offers useful information for visitors with a disability or specific access need.
Nearest Tube: Tottenham Court Road or Leicester Square
Buses: The nearest bus stops are serviced by numbers 3, 6, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 19, 22, 23, 38, 88, 94, 139, 159, 453
Check out Transport for London’s excellent TFL Journey Planner
Luxury: The Soho Hotel, 4 Richmond Mews, Soho, London W1D 3DH
Mid: Hazlitt’s, 6 Frith St, Soho, London W1D 3JA
Budget: The Z hotel Soho, 17 Moor St, Soho, London W1D 5AP
The Prince Edward theatre stands on the corner of Old Compton Street and Greek Street in Soho. It was named in honour of Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII, Duke of Windsor who abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson).
The site previously housed silk, linen and drapery businesses, alongside auctioneers, candlemakers and several private apartments. The last of these were the drapers William Reddan and Sons Ltd, whose shop, known as The Emporium, was demolished in 1929 to make way for a new theatre.
The Prince Edward was the first of several West End theatres to open in the 1930 ‘building boom’. It was joined later that year by the Cambridge Theatre, the Phoenix Theatre, the Whitehall (now the Trafalgar Theatre), the newly rebuilt Adelphi Theatre and finally the Leicester Square Theatre.
Designed by Edward Stone and built by Griggs and Son, the Prince Edward’s art deco auditorium was furnished by Marc-Henri and Laverdet in fuschia pink and gold. Seating was on three levels, Stalls, Dress and Grand Circles, which, with seven boxes, could comfortably seat 1,650.
The theatre opened on 3rd April 1930 with Rio Rita, a musical comedy by Harry Tierney. Silent footage from the production still exists.
Sadly, Rio Rita was not the hit the new theatre had hoped for and closed after just 59 performances. This was followed by other short-running productions such as the musical Nippy, running for 137 performances and Fanfare, running for just three weeks.
Remarkably for the period, footage also exists from Nippy, filmed during the Prince Edward’s inaugural year and starring Binnie Hale.
In 1933, the star Josephine Baker played a four-week season here, including her famous ‘Bananas Dance’.
In 1935, the theatre was briefly renamed the Radio Theatre, before being bought by an international Casino syndicate for £25,000. The theatre reopened on 2nd April 1936 as the London Casino, a cabaret/restaurant/dancing venue. The existing stage was converted into a semi-circular dance floor, the substage area became kitchens, and staircases were built connecting the stalls directly to the dress circle.
The first stage show in the reconfigured venue was Folies Parisiennes, followed by Bal Tabarin, La Revue d’Elegance and Folies de Minuit.
Initially profitable, the venue’s lavish productions and high running costs eventually led to serious financial problems.
Upon the outbreak of war, the theatre fell dark for two years. On the night of 10th May 1941, one of the world air raids of World War II badly damaged the theatre, blowing out every window. Bombs also destroyed most of the surrounding buildings in Greek Street.
After The Blitz, repairs began, including alterations to the stage by the architects T and E Braddock. In 1942, the theatre was finally able to reopen, becoming the Queensberry All Services Club for the remainder of World War II. From here, the BBC first broadcast Variety Bandbox. Originally designed to keep up morale, this radio show would become a long-running fixture of the BBC light entertainment schedule. Stars appearing here included Vera Lynn, Tommy Trinder, Glenn Miller and George Formby.
The venue returned to theatrical use in 1946 under the management of Tom Arnold and Emile Littler, becoming known once more as the London Casino. The first show of this new era was Elsa Shelley’s play Pick-Up Girl.
1947 saw the first in a series of International Variety shows presented by Bernard Delfont introduce Chico Marx, Max Wall and Max Miller to the London Casino’s audiences.
The first of many pantomimes, Mother Goose was also performed here in 1947 with Stanley Holloway as Squire Skinflint. The next year’s pantomime was Humpty Dumpty starring a thirteen-year-old Julie Andrews.
Latin Quarter, Robert Nesbitt’s ‘luxury musical’ was presented here annually from 1949 until 1952. The audience was greeted by one band in the foyer, another on stage and a third in the orchestra pit, with fresh violets places on seats and balloons festooning the ceiling.
In 1953, Cicely Courtneidge starred in Vivian Ellis’s revue Over the Moon. This was followed by Harold Rome’s musical comedy Wish You Were Here, which was set in a holiday camp and featured a swimming pool on stage.
In 1954, the theatre was converted for large screen ‘Cinerama’, a new three-projector very-wide-screen technique devised in New York. Conversion was overseen by architects Frank Baessler and T and E Braddock and required installation of three separate projection boxes. Sight lines from the upper circle were poor, and the level was taken out of use, reducing the overall seating capacity to 1,337.
The premiere of This is Cinerama was screened on 30th September 1954. Screenings were presented with an intermission to allow the spools to be changed for the second half. These early films were travelogues, introducing a world to exotic locations then often restricted to wealthy travellers. Travelogues dominated the early years of Cinerama, grossing $9.5 million in the first eight years. To reflect this change of use, the venue became known as the Casino Cinerama Theatre. The final three-strip Cinerama screening was in 1962 with the world premiere of How the West Was Won. The film then ran for an impressive 123 weeks.
Three-projector cinerama was eventually replaced by a single lens format. First seen in 1963 at the Coliseum Cinerama (now the London Coliseum), this new cinerama format’s first screening here was The Greatest Story Ever Told, running from April to July 1965.
A new era of large-scale 70mm presentations followed, including Battle of the Bulge, 2001 A Space Odyssey and Ben-Hur. The final successful run was Song of Norway, which opened in December 1970 in the presence of HRH Princess Alexandra and closed in February 1972.
By the 1970s, audience habits were changing, and the Casino Cinerama Theatre began to struggle, mainly showing revivals of old films or new low-budget titles. The final Cinerama screening in May 1974 was the Italian comedy Run Run Joe!
In 1974, EMI & Bernard Delfont took over the running of the theatre. The theatre was refurbished at a cost of £150,000 (around £1.1 million today) and a conventional cinema screen installed, allowing the Casino Theatre to show movies alternating with theatrical productions. The theatre reopened on 18thDecember with a production of the pantomime Cinderella starring Twiggy as Cinderella, Roy Kinnear and Hugh Paddick as the Ugly Sisters, with Harry H Corbett and Wilfred Brambell as the Broker’s Men.
The following Christmas, Danny La Rue starred in The Exciting Adventures of Queen Daniella.
In 1976 the musical Dean, based on the life of James Dean played here and, in 1977, a Christmas production of Peter Pan ran with Ron Moody as the villainous Captain Hook.
The final film season before the theatre was returned to full theatrical use included Lady Sings The Blues and Mahogany, ending on 8th April 1978.
The theatre was now converted for sole use as a theatre by RHWL Architects and reverted to its original name, the Prince Edward Theatre.
The Prince Edward Theatre reopened on 21st June 1978 (following previews from 12th June) with the world premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s musical Evita. Evita marked the directorial West End debut of Hal Prince and made an international star of Elaine Paige as Eva Peron, alongside David Essex as Che Guevara. Evita ran until February 1986, becoming the longest running show in this theatre’s history. During its West End run, the role of Eva Peron was also played by Marti Webb, Stephanie Lawrence, Siobhan McCarthy and Kathryn Evans.
From May 1986 to April 1989, another long-running Tim Rice co-written musical, Chess, arrived. Rice had long wanted to write a cold war inspired musical. With Lloyd Webber working on Cats, American producer Richard Vos suggested that Rice approach ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson. After an initial meeting in Stockholm in 1981, much of the show was written by correspondence over several years, and the rest is musical theatre history. Chess starred Tommy Körberg as The Russian and Murray Head as The American, with Elaine Paige returning to the Prince Edward stage as Florence Vassy. The original London cast also included Siobhán McCarthy as Svetlana. Barbara Dickson’s duet with Elaine Paige, I Know Him So Well, became one of the biggest selling singles of 1985, although Dickson never appeared in the West End production.
Elaine Paige returned for a third time in 1989, this time starring as nightclub singer Reno Sweeney in Cole Porter’s seafaring musical Anything Goes. The show co-starred John Barrowman as the dashing Billy Crocker, running until August 1990.
From December 1990, Children of Eden retold one of the greatest stories of all time – the creation of the World, Cain and Abel and the great flood of the Old Testament. With music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by John Caird, the show had all the elements for another success, including a cast featuring Ray Shell, Frances Ruffelle, Ruthie Henshall and Anna-Jane Casey. The production had originally been intended for the Barbican Theatre but moved to the Prince Edward after the RSC decided to close the Barbican to save money over winter. Sadly, the show opened to mixed reviews and closed in April 1991…though poor sales were also attributed the Gulf War.
The theatre hosted The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber from 14th to 25th May 1991, starring Sarah Brightman with guests including Ray Shell.
Legendary crooner Tony Bennett performed here in concert on 6th September 1991.
In October 1991, another ill-fated production arrived. The Hunting of the Snark was hugely ambitious, with a budget of £2 million and 152 computer-linked projectors positioned around the theatre. Based on Lewis Carroll’s 1876 poem and written by composer Mike Batt, the show had been performed to great acclaim in the Barbican and the Royal Albert Hall. Sadly, the upscaled move to the Prince Edward proved to be a step too far; despite a live 50 piece orchestra on stage and a cast including Philip Quast, John Partridge and Kenny Everett, the show flopped in the West End, closing just seven weeks later. Footage from the show’s development at the Royal Albert Hall production can still be seen.
A third short-lived musical followed, opening in March 1992. Some Like it Hot starred Tommy Steele and Billy Boyle in the two cross-dressing lead roles of Joe/Josephine and Jerry/Daphne. Despite a strong advance, the show received disappointing reviews, with the Daily Express critic summing up the show as “Some Like it Lukewarm”.
Later in 1992, the theatre was completely refurbished by Delfont Mackintosh Theatres Ltd, once again using the architects RHWL (Renton Howard Wood Levin), with lead architect Nick Thomson and designer/colourist Clare Ferraby leading the project with Andre Tammes of the Lighting Design Partnership. This included enlarging the stage, remodelling the auditorium and adding new side boxes. Front of house, bars and toilet facilities were all improved, and interior and exterior lighting all redesigned to create a more intimate atmosphere. A new canopy was also added to the front of the theatre.
The theatre reopened on 3rd March 1993 with Gershwin musical comedy Crazy for You (adapted from Girl Crazy). Starring Ruthie Henshall and Kirby Ward, the cast also included future Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood. The show was a hit with critics and public alike and ran successfully for the next three years.
In July 1996, Alan Boublil/Claude Michel Shonberg’s musical Martin Guerre opened, starring Iain Glen as Arnaud Du Thil and Juliette Caton as Bertrande De Rols. The original cast also featured Matt Rawle and Ann Emery, along with a 17-year-old James Corden credited simply as “Villager”. The show was initially poorly received, prompting the show’s producer and the creative team to drastically revise and rewrite the show during early performances. Eventually, after a brief closure in late October 1996, the show reopened, going on to win the Olivier Award for Best Musical. The show’s second cast featured Hal Fowler as Arnaud and Jenna Russell as Bertrande.
Martin Guerre was followed in April 1998 by the Broadway transfers of Hal Prince’s lavish Showboat, choreographed by Susan Stroman. The show played a five-month run before making way for the UK Tour of West Side Story, which played here for three months before transferring to the Prince of Wales Theatre.
In 1999, it was revealed that a new musical featuring the songs of ABBA would open on 6th April. This would mark a musical return for Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus almost ten years to the day after the final performance of Chess. Initially, Mamma Mia! took itself a little too seriously and previews were met with nervous giggles. It was soon realised that the dialogue, often lifted directly from ABBA lyrics, worked better delivered tongue-in-cheek. The redirected show quickly earned camp classic status, running here for five years before moving to the Prince of Wales Theatre for further 8 years. It subsequently transferred to the Novello Theatre, where it is still running in 2022 (after a hiatus for the Coronavirus pandemic).
After Mamma Mia! departed, the Prince Edward Theatre next played host to the stage version of Disney’s Mary Poppins. The show, with original music by the Sherman Brothers and additional songs by Stiles and Drewe, was another hit, running for over 1,000 performances and starring Laura Michelle Kelly in the title role.
The theatre continued its run of commercial success with a transfer of Broadway hit musical Jersey Boys. Opening in 2008, the show featured the songs of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and won the 2009 Olivier Award for Best New Musical. The show starred Ryan Molloy as Frankie Valli for the entirety of the show’s six year run here, making him the longest-running star in a West End musical. The show subsequently moved to the Piccadilly Theatre, running until 2017.
With the Jersey Boys moving on, in 2014 the Prince Edward became free for the much-anticipated West End return of Boublil and Schoenberg’s Miss Saigon. The original production, which ran for ten years at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, closed in 1999. The new production was no less dazzling, still featuring the breath-taking arrival of a helicopter mid-show.
In 2016, Miss Saigon’s impressive helicopter was replaced by a no-less dazzling flying carpet, marking the arrival of Disney’s Aladdin. The original London cast included Dean John-Wilson as Aladdin, Jade Ewen as Jasmine and Trevor Dion-Nicholas as The Genie. The show ran for three years until another gravity-defying musical landed in 2019, marking the return of Mary Poppins.
Performances of Mary Poppins were suspended in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The show resumed on 7th August 2021. The final performance is currently scheduled for 8th January 2023. During the show’s run, the cast has included Charlie Stemp as Bert, Petula Clark as The Bird Woman and Zizi Strallen as Mary Poppins.
The Prince Edward Theatre has a seating capacity of approximately 1,720 and is currently owned by Delfont Mackintosh Theatres.
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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.
London Theatres by Michael Coveney & Peter Dazeley, is available from Waterstones and Amazon and provides stunning photography and commentary on London’s iconic theatres.