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Playhouse Theatre, London
Current show: Christopher Luscombe's special 're-staged' version of Monty Python's stage musical Spamalot 'lovingly ripped-off' from film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Architect: Blow and Billerey
The original theatre here was called the Royal Avenue Theatre which opened 11 March 1882. There is a story that the site of the theatre was bought 'speculatively' by a property developer who believed that the owners of the adjacent Charing Cross Railway Station would need to buy the land to enlarge the Station, they didn't, and thus the theatre remained. It was here that Shaw's first West End play, Arms and Men, was presented in 1894.
In 1905, when the theatre was being extensively refurbished and rebuilt, disaster struck as a large block of masonary fell from Charing Cross Station falling through the roof of the theatre and killing six workmen and injuring many more. When finally this was all sorted out, The Playhouse, as the theatre was now renamed, opened on 28 January 1907.
It was here that the premiere of Somerset Maugham's play Home and Beauty took place and where Alec Guiness made his stage debut in Libel. The Playhouse Theatre is probably best remembered as a BBC Radio studio - radio programmes were recorded here in front of a live studio audience between 1951 and 1975. Programmes recorded here included Hancock's Half Hour, The Goon Show, Steptoe and Son aswell as panel games. The pop groups The Beatles and The Rolling Stones have both made radio broadcasts from the stage of the Playhouse Theatre.
In the 1980s the theatre was restored to its original 1907 glory and reopened in October 1987.
Following the critically acclaimed revival of Ibsen's A Doll's House in 1996, which starred Janet McTeer, the Playhouse Theatre was bought by new owners who closed it for five months for a reburbishment. It was then reopened as a producing theatre, presenting the West End premiere of Anton Chekhov's third full length play, The Wood Demon. Unfortunately it opened to poor notices and closed after only two months after which the Playhouse Theatre once again became a commerical West End receiving house.
It was reported that American theatrical producers Ted and Norman Tulchin bought the theatre at the end of 2002.