The Adelphi Theatre, London
Current show: The new musical The Bodyguard the Musical based on Lawrence Kasdan's 1992 Warner Bros. film of the same name and featuring songs made famous by Whitney Houston.
Architect: Ernest Schaufelberg
There has been a theatre on this site since 1806 when The Sans Pareil Theatre opened here. This theatre went through a number of refurbishments, and name changes, becoming The Adelphi Theatre in 1819 and then The Theatre Royal, Adelphi in 1829. Although the theatre was popular during the 1820s, the building fell into disrepair by the 1850 and was therefore demolished to make way for the new 1,500 seater theatre which opened in December 1858, keeping the previous name of The Theatre Royal, Adelphi, although within 10 years the name was changed to The Royal Adelphi Theatre.
After barely 40 years, and with some modifications taking place during that time, the building was then virtually rebuilt with a slightly smaller capacity and reopened as The Century Theatre in September 1901 - but public demand for the old name was so strong, that the theatre reverted to being called The Royal Adelphi Theatre after just six months!
The Adelphi Theatre that we know today - the Royal prefix was dropped in 1940 - was designed by the architect Ernest Schaufelberg with seating on three levels and opened on 3 December 1930.
'A theatre of straight lines and angles'
The current Adelphi Theatre is noted for being designed in a modernist 1930s art deco style. When it opened it was described as being "designed with a complete absence of curves. Externally and internally the entire conception is carried out in straight lines and angles, the angle of thirty-two degrees being used as the master note." This 'straight-line' design is most noticable from the outside by the glazed window looking out from the Dress Circle bar area onto the street, directly above the theatre's canopy and, internally, by the line of the front of the two circles and side boxes.
The Adelphi Theatre opened in December 1930 with a successful run of the musical Evergreen starring Jessie Matthews (who also starred in the film version). Other notable shows from this time included Noel Coward's Word and Music and Cole Porter's Nymph Errant and, in 1942, a revival of Ivor Novello's musical comedy The Dancing Years which enjoyed a run of 969 performances. The 1950s saw The Adelphi Theatre presenting a number of revue style shows, often headlined by entertainment stars from the radio.
1965 saw the musical Charlie Girl open and run for over 2,000 performances while in 1975 Stephen Sondhem's A Little Night Music was staged here and enjoyed a run of 406 performances.
In 1985 The Adelphi Theatre scored a huge hit when the revised revival of Noel Gay's musical comedy Me and My Girl opened, and continued to entertain audences with 'The Lambeth Walk' for just under eight years.
The current show, Chicago The Musical - also a revival - opened in November 1997 and will take over from Me and My Girl to become The Adelphi Theatre's longest running show in October 2005!
Although threatened with demolition in the 1960s to make way for offices, The Adelphi Theatre has, thankfully survived and, in 1993, was extensively restored to its former 1930s glory when Andrew Lloyd Webber became the co-owner of the theatre with James Nederlander. When you visit the theatre be sure to take a look around spot the art deco designs.