Piccadilly Theatre, London
A huge theatre - it is was claimed in the souvenir brochure celebrating the opening that 'if all the bricks used in the building were laid in a straight line, they would stretch from London to Paris'. The interior is art deco in style. The seating has been reduced from the original 1400 to 1232.
The theatre opened with the musical Blue Eyes by Jerome Kern, and starring Evelyn Laye. History was made here in 1928 when the theatre premiered Al Jolson's second film The Singing Fool - the first talkie to be shown in Britain. Talkies continued to be shown for the next year before the theatre returned to use as a live theatre.
Other productions of particular note here include the premiere of Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit in 1941 which included Margaret Rutherford. In 1968 Edward Albee's Whos' Afraid of Virginia Woolf? featuring the original Broadway leads, Uta Hagen and Arthur Hill, played here. The Stephen Sondheim/Jule Styne musical Gyspy opened in May 1973 with Angela Lansbury in the lead, she was then succeded by Dolores Gray. 1975 saw Henry Fonda making his West End theatre debut in the one man show Clarence Darrow.
The theatre has a reputation for short runs - sometimes attributed to the fact that, although the theatre is centrally located, it is rather hard behind the north side of Piccadilly Circus and so suffers from both a lack of passing trade and public awareness.
The current show at the Piccadilly Theatre is Grease which became the longest running show at this theatre on 20 June 2009, after 800 performances.