Dates: December 1930 – present
Auditorium Capacity: 1,436
Official website: https://lwtheatres.co.uk/theatres/adelphi
The current theatre is the fourth venue on it’s site in the Strand. The first building opened on 27 November 1806.
The first theatre was The Sans Pareil (which was renamed the Adelphi in 1819, the the Theatre Royal, Adelphi, in 1829).
A second theatre built in 1858 took the name Theatre Royal, New Adelphi from 1867 onwards.
In 1901, the third building, reconstructed to provide a new frontage on the Strand, opened as The Century Theatre, but within a year it reverted to the Royal Adelphi.
From the official history website.
The Adelphi was one of five theatres that were almost demolished due to a plan to redevelop the Covent Garden area by the Greater London Council (GLC), in 1971. The GLC planned to build new theatres to replace them. However, the plan was abandoned in 1973 after a campaign by the Covent Garden Community Association.
Guardian article about the plan which contains fascinating insights into the financial workings of West End theatre in the 1970s.
From the Really Useful Theatres history website
“In December 1897 the famous melodramatic actor William Terris was dramatically and fatally stabbed on his way into the theatre to prepare for a performance of Secret Service. The stage door was then in Bull Inn Court, but Terris used the Royal Entrance in Maiden Lane as a private access route. It proved his undoing for it allowed Richard Prince, a jealous (and mad) colleague, to attack him with a knife. He died from his wounds inside the theatre in the arms of his leading lady, and mistress, Jessie Milward. He was enormously popular and greatly mourned and since his last words were reportedly ‘I’ll be back’ there may be some truth in reputed sightings of his ghost here in the theatre and at Covent Garden Tube Station.”
Equipment & Facilities
Stage Revolve: 10.97m diameter – installed around 1931 (for Ever Green, presented by C B Cochran (from The Play, January 1931))
The revolve was not usable by 1994 (from British Performing Arts Yearbook 1994)
From The Stage Guide, 1971
Electrics: Strand board in Dress Circle box SL. 150 dimmers x 2.5kW; 2 presets; 20 groups. Circuits – FOH 29; Flies 88; Stage dips 28. Total capacity available – 400A on 3 phases. Special effects supply – 150A on 2 phases. Socket type – 15A. Follow spots – 3 sunspots. Footlights installed but can be covered.
Sound: Console in Dress Circle box SL. 2 amplifiers. 2 tape decks. No turntables. Mic sockets – 12 jack plugs. 10 loudspeakers.
From the British Theatre Directory, 1978 & 1987
Switchboard: MMS Desk; 150 ways; FOH Spots 29 Auto; 4 Battens; 80 Dips.
Sound Equip: Cue Call
From the British Performing Arts Yearbook 1994
No lighting board or lanterns permanently installed. [during the run of Sunset Boulevard]
Past Productions / History
- Back to the Future: The Musical (Opens 20 August 2021)
- CANCELLED Hello Dolly (11 August 2020 – 6 March 2021) starring Imelda Staunton, directed by Dominic Cooke. 30 week run.
- Waitress (February 2019 – 4 July 2020 [ended March 2020 due to Coronavirus]) then on a UK tour
- Kinky Boots (21 August 2015 – closes 12 January 2019)
- 2015 – Refurbishment – new bar in the foyer and more improved toilets.
- Made in Dagenham (2014) starring Gemma Arterton
- The Bodyguard (2012)
- 2012 – Refurbishment – new toilets and movement space in the basement, next to the Jessie Matthews Bar.
- Sweeney Todd (2012)
- One Man, Two Guvnors (2011) starring James Corden
- Love Never Dies (2010)
- Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (2007)
- Evita (2006)
- Chicago (1997 – 2006) ran for over 8 years – holds the record for the longest West End run of an American musical
- Sunset Boulevard (July 12 1993 – April 5 1997)
- 1993 – Theatre restored, prior to the opening of Sunset Boulevard restoring original art deco features.
- Me and My Girl (previews from 2 February 1985, opened 12 February 1985, closed ?1993)
- Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book (1984) play starring Fenella Fielding, Jeremy Sinden. Directed by John Hartoch.
- Marilyn! The Musical (Previews from March 3 1983, Opened March 17 1983)
- Annie (to Feb 12 1983)
- My Fair Lady (25 October 1979 – 31 October 1981) Cameron Mackintosh revival, starring Tony Britton, Liz Robertson, Peter Bayliss, Anna Neagle
- Charley’s Aunt (1979) starring John Inman
- Beyond the Rainbow (9 September 1978 – ?)
- Irene: The Musical Musical (15 June 1976 to 14 October 1978) 974 performances
- A Little Night Music (1975) starring Virginia McKenna, Joss Ackland. Directed by Harold Prince.
- Dr Who and the Daleks (December 1974) starring Trevor Martin, written by Terrence Dicks
- Show Boat (1971) 909 performances
- Charlie Girl (1965)
- Blitz! (May 1962 – 19 September 1963) Lionel Bart
- The Music Man (1961) Van Johnson
- Auntie Mame (1958) starring Beatrice Lillie
- United Notions (November 1956) variety starring Tommy Trinder, Patachou, Pinky Lee, The Piero Brothers
- Such Is Life (1956?) starring Al Read, Shirley Bassey, Jack Tripp, Lauri Lupino Lane, George Truzzi
- The Talk of the Town (December? 1954 – ?) starring Jimmy Edwards, Tony Hancock, Joan Turner
- You’ll Be Lucky (June 1954? – ) starring Al Read and Shani Wallis
- Bless the Bride (1947) starring Lizbeth Webb
- Dear Octopus (1940) Dame Marie Tempest’s last performance
- 1940 – The ‘Royal’ epithet was dropped, leaving the theatre called The Adelphi.
- Magnolia Street (1934)
- Nymph Errant (1933) Cole Porter
- Words and Music (1932) Noel Coward
- Grand Hotel (1931) Vicki Baum
- Ever Green (Dec 3 1930) starring Jessie Matthews
- 1930 – Reconstructed theatre opened (with internal art deco features). Architect: Ernest Schaufelberg. ?New Revolving Stage
- Aloma (1926)
- The Green Hat (1925) starring Tallulah Bankhead
- The Way of an Eagle (1922)
- The Quaker Girl (1908)
Links to information about equipment at Adelphi Theatre, London over the years
Letter from Fred Bentham about System CD for Adelphi for Blitz (February 1962)
From David Bertenshaw Collection
Unusual Rigging completes first phase of refurbishment work at London’s Adelphi Theatre (March 2021)