The Gielgud Theatre has held its location on Shaftesbury Avenue since 1906 and been home to many traditional and modern classics. Originally known as the Hicks Theatre, the building was designed as twin to the Queen’s Theatre on the opposite street corner.
Designed in an elaborate French neoclassical style, the theatre has a capacity of 986 which is split between three bordered tiers. It opened as the Hicks with a production of The Beauty Of Bath in 1906, a play co-written by Seymour Hicks. However, in 1909, its name was changed to the Globe, before finally being renamed as the Gielgud in 1994. The venue decided on this final name in order to distinguish itself from the newly opened Shakespeare’s Globe, and also to pay homage to Sir John Gielgud, who made his first of fifteen appearances at the theatre in 1928.
Productions at the theatre have featured many of theatre’s most famous names. In the 1920s, A. A. Milne (the Winnie the Pooh author, who was also a popular playwright) had three of his plays performed there. During the Second World War, While The Sun Rises, a wartime comedy-romance, had an impressive 1154 performances, in order to boost morale. Other notable historical performances include Edith Evans as Lady Bracknell in a 1939 production of The Importance Of Being Earnest, directed by John Gielgud, and Judi Dench’s first appearance in 2004 with the Royal Shakespeare Company’s ten-year run of All’s Well That Ends Well.
In 2006, Delfont Mackintosh Theatres took over operational control of the Gielgud, and presented a series of acclaimed productions with an outstanding number of big-name actors including Iain Glen, Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Daniel Radcliffe, Richard Griffiths and Patrick Stewart. More recent successes of the venue include Yes, Prime Minister which has played at the theatre twice, and Graham Linehan’s highly entertaining stage adaptation of the classic Ealing comedy, The Ladykillers.
In 2013, the National Theatre’s production of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time transferred to the Gielgud for a three-year run. The highly acclaimed production won 7 Olivier Awards which equalled the record for awards won at the time.