Her Majesty's Theatre, London

Current show: The legendary original stage production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical The Phantom of the Opera, based Gaston Leroux's classic novel

This theatre changes its name to either Her Majesty's Theatre or His Majesty's Theatre depending on whether Queen or King is on the British throne!

The current theatre is actually the fourth theatre to occupy this site: The first, called the Queen's Theatre, was built by Sir John Vanbrugh and opened on 9 April 1705. The theatre then changed its name to the Kings Theatre in 1714 when King George I ascended the throne. This theatre was associated with opera from the early 1910s until 1789 when the theatre was destroyed by fire. The second theatre was designed by designed by Michael Novosielski and opened in March 1791. This theatre was again associated with opera, as well as ballet. It was here that some of Mozart's opera where first presented in London - La Clemenza de Tito in 1806, Cosi fan Tutti in 1811 and Don Giovanni in 1816. Between 1816 and 1818 alterations were made to the auditorium and facades by John Nash and George Renton who also added the Royal Opera Arcade which runs along the rear of the theatre and still stands today. In 1837 the name of the theatre was changed to Her Majesty's Theatre, Italian Opera House when Queen Victoria ascended to the throne. The 'Italian Opera House' part of the name was subsequently dropped in 1847. Then, in December 1867, the theatre was once again destroyed by fire. The theatre was then again rebuilt in 1869, this time designed by Charles Lee, although the theatre remained dark until 1875 when once again opera was mostly presented here. In 1892 the theatre was demolished, leaving just the Royal Opera Arcade.

The current, and fourth, theatre on this site opened on Wednesday 28 April 1897 and was designed by C J Phipps and managed by Herbert Beerbohm Tree. A contemporary report from the opening described that: "Built of Portland stone, in the style of the French Renaissance, Her Majesty's Theatre exhibits the most advanced methods of theatre-construction in London, and is capable of seating between 1,600 and 1,700 people. The building covers a frontage in Charles Street of 160ft, and in the Haymarket of 86ft A distinctive feature of the exterior is the long open loggia outside the foyer, while an imposing cupola rises above. The auditorium is arranged for an audience divided into five different classes. On the ground floor, level with the street, is the pit (with a separate seat for every person), the pit stalls, and the orchestra stalls. The first floor is devoted, to the dress circle, with the cheaper 'family circle' behind it, while the second tier consists of the upper circle, the amphitheatre, and the gallery. The exits to every part of the house are exceedingly convenient, two streets being available for the purpose. The decoration, which is very simple, is in the style of Louis XIV, the predominating colour being white, relieved here and there with gold. The proscenium, together with the great columns and pilasters supporting the various parts of the house, is in Breche Violette marble, while the act-drop is an enlarged reproduction of the famous Gobelin piece of tapestry by Coypel, which pictures Dido receiving Aeneas. Gas, of course, has been entirely superseded by electric light, the lights throughout the front of the house bring an exact reproduction of the Fontainebleau candle-brackets, while the huge chandelier, which descends from the eight ceiling-panels (representing Dawn, Sunrise, Morning, Noon, Afternoon, Sunset, Twilight, and Night), is exactly like the famous ore at Fontainebleau, lighted, of course, with electricity instead of the candle of another day. The stage is almost as large as the auditorium itself, from which it is divided by an open spare of 9ft above the proscenium arch. One of the great features of this part of the house is the absolutely flat stage, which, while common enough in America, is a novelty in this country, and enables scenery to be shifted with much greater ease than in a stage built on the rake. A great deal of trouble has been spent over the methods for warming and ventilating the entire building, the intention being to keep the theatre at a uniform temperature of sixty-two degrees. Ten thousand feet of fresh air will enter the house every hour, warm in winter and cold in summer. Thus, Mr Tree starts again on his managerial career well equipped with the necessary machinery for producing any sort of play, and his career at the Haymarket Theatre has demonstrated clearly that he has no lack of ambition." The opening production was Gilbert Parker's play The Seats of the Mighty which was preceded on opening night by Mrs Tree reciting a poem written by the Poet Laureate Alfred Austin.

On Thursday 31 August 1916 Oscar Ascher and Frederic Norton's musical Chu Chin Chow started a record breaking run of 2,238 performances up to Friday 22 July 1921. In 1929 Noel Coward's Bitter Sweet was produced here and enjoyed a run of 697 performances. After the Second World War the theatre mostly presented musicals which included Brigadoon in 1949, Paint Your Wagon in 1953, West Side Story in 1958 and Fiddler On The Roof in 1967 which had a run of 2,030 performances. The short lived Andrew Lloyd Webber and Alan Ayckbourn musical Jeeves opened here in April 1975 and closed just four weeks - in sharp contrast to the current production: the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Charles Hart musical Phantom of the Opera which opened here on Thursday 9 October 1986 running up to Saturday 14 March 2020 when it closed due to the COVID-19 situation. It is hoped Phantom of the Opera will restart performances in June 2021, once COVID-19 restrictions have been eased, and long-awaited repair works have been carried out inside the theatre, and on the production sets themselves.

List of shows currently playing in London's West End

Architect: C J Phipps
Opened: 28 April 1897
Listed: Grade II*
Seats: 1,210 on 4 levels
Her Majesty's Theatre Show Archive
Street map
Seating plan

Current Show:

The Phantom of the Opera

Reopens 5 June 2021

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