The Piccadilly Theatre made a spectacular entrance into the West End scene in 1928, with its brochure claiming that, “if all the bricks used in the building were laid in a straight line, they would stretch from London to Paris.” The 1,232-seat auditorium featuring a unique Art Deco interior was designed by Bertie Crewe and Edward A. Stone for Edward Laurillard, and is as spectacular then as it is now.
In its infant years, the Piccadilly Theatre was briefly taken over by Warner Brothers and operated as a cinema using the Vitaphone system. It famously premièred the first talking picture film to be shown in Great Britain: The Singing Fool with Al Jolson in 1928. It also presented the Jazz Singer in the same year, and later had the star appear on its stage when Jolson featured in Mammie.
Having been opened as the Piccadilly Theatre, it was relaunched in 1936 as a cabaret restaurant called London Casino. Having been badly damaged in World War II, the venue underwent many renovations before reopening under its original name of the Piccadilly Theatre in the early 1950s.
During the following two decades, the theatre hosted many Broadway productions as they transferred over to the West End, including A Street Car Named Desire, and Man Of La Mancha. The theatre is also famous for being the venue that The Beatles recorded some songs there for a BBC Radio production in the 1960s.
Since then, the Piccadilly has presented a multitude of stage genres– from hard-hitting dramas, such as Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, to comedy nights such as A Night With Dame Edna. There have also been a variety of Royal Shakespeare Company productions there including Edward II starring Ian McKellen.