Location: 404 Strand
Currently Showing: True West
Access: Charing Cross (exit to The Strand)
Stage Door: Maiden Lane, out of main entrance, turn left twice
Ownership: Nimax Theatres
The Vaudeville Theatre was opened on 16th April 1870 with Andrew Halliday’s For Love Or Money. The owner, William Robertson, had previously run an unsuccessful billiard hall on the site but he spotted the opportunity for a theatre. Originally, the theatre stood behind two houses and the entrance was through a maze of corridors. It had a capacity of 1046 and, because of the cramped site, there was limited space at the front and backstage.
Robertson leased the theatre to three actors, Thomas Thorne, David James and HJ Montague. Henry Irving, the famous Shakespeare actor, had his first success at this theatre in Two Roses in 1870. The first piece of theatre in the world to achieve 500 consecutive performances was Our Boys by H J Byron which started its run at the Vaudeville in 1875.
In 1882, Thorne became the sole lessee. Seven years later, he demolished the houses to create a foyer block. The theatre was refurbished to have more spacious seating and a new intricate ceiling design. It reopened with Woodbarrow Farm.
Thorne passed the lease of the theatre in 1892 to Agostino and Stefano Gatti, who owned the lease of the neighbouring Adelphi Theatre. The first production they put on as managers was a revival of Our Boys. Under their management, the theatre became known for a successful run of musical comedies.
The foyer of the Vaudeville became infamous for being the site of an argument between Richard Archer Prince and William Terriss. Shortly after the argument, Prince stabbed Terriss at the stage door of the Adelphi Theatre. In 1905, John Maria and Rocco Gatti took over management of the theatre. It closed on 7th November 1925. The interior was reconstructed. The new capacity was 700 when it reopened on 23rd February 1926 with R.S.V.P by Archie de Bear.
In 1968, the theatre (along with other nearby theatres the Adelphi, Garrick, Lyceum and Duchess Theatres) was under threat from a redevelopment of Covent Garden by London Greater Council. However, a campaign by Equity, the Musicians’ Union and theatre owners led to the scheme’s abandonment.
A year later, the Gattis family sold their interests to Sir Peter Saunders, who commissioned the redesign of the theatre. In 1983, Michael Codron and David Sutton became managers, and then Stephen Waley-Cohen, and then Max Weitzenhofer in 2002.
Popular dance show Stomp opened at the theatre from 2002 to 2007. Nimax Theatres Limited bought the theatre in 2005.
The Vaudeville Theatre is located on the Strand. This is a very central location. Covent Garden and Leicester Square are both short distances away, where there are plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants, some of which have outdoor space.
Embankment and Trafalgar Square are also close by. Nelson’s Column is a popular tourist site, not to be missed, and the view of the Thames and London’s skyline is very picturesque.
On the Strand, there are restaurants including Bella Italia, Zizzi, and Byron Burgers. It is also the home of the famous Savoy Hotel. This is perfect for those with a higher budget and those looking for a special experience. There are some restaurants inside the Hotel, including Gordon Ramsay’s Savoy Grill.
The theatre is quite small, which means there are few seats with a restricted view. It also means that it is an intimate venue.
Where to buy tickets
The Vaudeville Theatre is owned by Nimax Theatres and so the best place to buy tickets is direct from the Nimax Theatres’ website where you will pay face value plus a booking fee.