This theatre was originally named the Hicks Theatre after the actor-manager Seymour Hicks. Opened at the end of December 1906 under the management of Charles Frohman, it was designed by the architect W G R Sprague as a pair with the Queens Theatre on the opposite corner of the building block in Shaftesbury Theatre which opened just over nine months later.
A contemporary report from when this theatre opened in 1906 stated that" "The new Hicks Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue will be found very like the Aldwych Theatre, and therefore very colourful and cosy alike in arrangement and ornamentation. A two-tier house, accommodating some 1,200 people, the Hicks makes a special feature of its beautiful entrance vestibule with the fine foyer above. The gold and cream colouring of the Louis XVI decoration and the Rose du Barri upholstery are very light and pleasant in their general effect; while, so far as one can judge, the house not only pleases the eye but secures physical comfort of the spectator. The resemblance to the Aldwych will be accentuated by the fact that the opening programme at the Hicks will be transferred bodily from the former theatre in the shape of The Beauty of Bath, with Mr Seymour Hicks, Miss Ellaline Terriss, and the whole of their colleagues."
The opening production on Thursday 27 December 1906 was the musical The Beauty of Bath, written by Seymour Hicks and Cosmo Hamilton with lyrics by Charles H Taylor and music by Herbert E Haines. The production, which had opened at the Aldwych Theatre on Monday 19 March 1906, closed at that theatre on Wednesday 26 December and was transported in its entirety over night to its new home where it continued to play for a further two months, up to Saturday 23 February 1907. The theatre was renamed the Globe Theatre in July 1909.
Terence Frisby's comedy There's A Girl in my Soup opened here on Wednesday 15 June 1966 and had a long run of 1,064 performances up to Saturday 16 August 1969 before the production transferred to the Comedy Theatre (now Harold Pinter), a run that was not surpassed until Andrew Lloyd Webber's production of Denise Deegan's comedy Daisy Pulls it Off which opened here on Monday 18 April 1983 and continued up to Saturday 22 February 1986, some 1,180 performances and this theatre's record for the longest run. On Tuesday 27 October 1987 Peter Shaffer's successful play Lettice and Lovage opened, with Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in the original cast, and run for jut over two years, up to Saturday 27 Janaury 1990. In 1992 a revival of Oscar Wilde's classic comedy, An Ideal Husband, directed by Peter Hall opened here on Wednesday 11 November 1992 and enjoyed a successful run of seven months, the production was then restaged in 1996 at the Haymarket Theatre before it transferred to Broadway.
The theatre was refurbished in 1987 and then on 2 November 1994 the name was change to the Gielgud Theatre in honour of the actor Sir John Gielgud who had been involved in at least 15 productions here as both an actor and director. The name change to the Gielgud Theatre was also to honour Sam Wannamaker whose reconstruction of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre on the South Bank of London was well underway. The Gielgud Theatre is owned and managed by Delfont Mackintosh Theatres. In 2003 Sir Cameron Mackintosh announced plans to refurbish the theatre, including a joint entrance foyer with the adjacent Queen's Theatre facing on to Shaftesbury Avenue, but these plans were quietly dropped a few years later.