16 Denman Street
London W1D 7DY
The present home of brand new West End musical Viva Forever, the Piccadilly Theatre has a history dating back to its opening in April 1928. The theatre was built with a plain facade and an Art Deco style interior, designed by Marc-Henri Levy and Gaston Laverdet and in shades of green and gold – the Piccadilly retains this colour scheme to this day. Additionally, when the theatre first opened it was one of the largest in London, with the original souvenir brochure boasting that ‘if all the bricks used in the building were laid in a straight line, they would stretch from London to Paris’! The theatre is in a thriving tourist location just behind Piccadilly Circus, right in the centre of the capital and close to a number of other attractions and entertainment sites.
Since opening in 1928, the Piccadilly Theatre has been used for a wide range of different kinds of entertainment, spanning everything from cinema through to ballet and drama. The opening production, Blue Eyes, was a musical and starred one of the most celebrated actresses of the era, Evelyn Laye, after which it was taken over by Warner Brothers and used as a cinema. This period of the theatre’s history is notable as it was the first place in Britain to show a talking picture, a film called The Singing Fool starring Al Jolson, before reopening as a venue for live performance and drama in November 1929.
Later on the Piccadilly Theatre was converted into a cabaret restaurant and reopened in 1936 as The London Casino, under which name it was renowned for its over-the-top stage shows. During the Second World War it was one of many significant London buildings to be damaged during bombings, with a German bomb landing on part of the theatre and necessitating extensive repairs in the 1950s. However, the theatre reopened once more under its present name and was recognised as a location for plays, revues and indeed musicals, making its mark by hosting the first ever London performances of A Streetcar Named Desire and Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?. The theatre was also the venue for broadcast entertainment such as the variety show Live from the Piccadilly, hosted by Jimmy Tarbuck, in the 1980s and with the Beatles recording material in the 1960s.
In the 1990s the theatre moved more solidly towards musicals and dance, with Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake becoming the most successful commercial ballet season ever to take place on the West End stage and with later productions of musicals Spend Spend Spend, Jailhouse Rock, Guys and Dolls, Grease the Musical, and Ghost the Musical which closed in October 2012 to make way for the current production of Viva Forever. Following the departure of Viva Forever on the 29th June, Dirty Dancing opens at the Piccadilly Theatre on the 13th July and is booking until February 2014.
Access and Facilities
- A cloakroom is available
- There are bars on all three levels
- There are male and female toilets located on all three levels
- Wheelchair access is available on the Royal Circle level