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The Ambassadors Theatre, West Street, London

The Ambassadors Theatre during the run of 'Waiting For Godot' in October 2006

Above - The Ambassadors Theatre during the run of 'Waiting For Godot' in October 2006

Programme for 'Swinging The Gate' at the Ambassadors Theatre in 1940, which was a sequel to 'The Gate Revue' of 1939.See London's West End TheatresSee this Theatre on Google StreetviewThe Ambassadors Theatre opened on Thursday the 5th June 1913 with a production of the play 'Panthea' by Monckton Hoffe. The original plan was to build two Theatres side by side at roughly the same time but the outbreak of the first world war caused the building of the second Theatre, St. Martin's, to be delayed until 1916.

Right - A Programme for 'Swinging The Gate' at the Ambassadors Theatre in 1940, which was a sequel to 'The Gate Revue' of 1939.

Because the Ambassadors Theatre was constructed before the building previously on the site of the St. Martin's Theatre had been demolished, the Ambassadors Theatre itself had to be lower than originally intended so as not to interfere with the 'ancient lights' of the other building. Hence the reason that the stalls of the Ambassadors Theatre is below ground level. Both Theatres were designed by the well known Theatre Architect W. G. R. Sprague.

A Seating Plan for the Ambassadors Theatre, probably from the 1920s.The ERA reported on the Theatre's opening in 1913 saying:- The general scheme of decoration is Louis XVI and the colour scheme of Parma violet ivory, and dull gold is a refreshing change to the warm colours usually selected in decorative schemes. The Auditorium is arranged with a commodious stalls area, behind which is a good roomy pit, and above this level is the dress circle, and forming part of the smae tier is the family circle, or upper boxes, sufficiently raised to form another distinct circle.' - The ERA, 1913.

Right - A Seating Plan for the Ambassadors Theatre, probably from the 1920s.

The Stage Newspaper also reported on the opening of the Ambassadors Theatre in their June 12, 1913 edition saying:- 'This new theatre, which was opened on Thursday by Mr. Durrant Swan with Panthea, a new play from the pen of Monckton Hoffe, stands at the corner of West Street, Shaftesbury Avenue, midway between Cambridge Circus on the one side and Great St. Andrew Street on the other.

It is a one-tier house, decorated chiefly in white and gold, with a seating capacity of about 500, there being two rows of stalls and some dozen of pit on the ground floor, and the comparatively spacious and lofty tier above being divided into balcony stalls and upper circle.

The stage is large enough to accommodate productions of the drawing-room drama, musical piece, and even romantic drama classes, the three sets, by J. A. Fraser and W. H. Davies, used for Panthea, being displayed to considerable advantage.

This fresh bijou house, which has been erected from the designs and under the superintendence of Mr. W. G. R. Sprague, has for [its] proprietors, The Ambassadors Theatre, Limited, Mr. Herbert Jay being the managing director and licensee. Mr. Swan has taken the Ambassadors on a lease, and among the functionaries connected with the new house must be named the general manager, Mr. F. Rolison Littler (well known as Frank Rolison, with Martin Harvey D.C.), the stage manager, the experienced Mr. Lilford Arthur, and Mr. Mark Strong, the musical director, who has lately been on tour as composer and Conductor.'

The above text (edited) in quotes was first published in The Stage, June 12, 1913.

An advertisement carried in a programme for 'Simple Spyman' at the Whitehall Theatre in the 1950s shows two women outside the Ambassadors Theatre during the 6th year of 'The Moustrap' - Courtesy George Richmond. Early Programme for 'The Mousetrap' at the Ambassadors Theatre with Richard Attenborough still in the cast, although his wife, Sheila Sim, was no longer in the play. - Click to see the Entire Programme.The world's longest running play, 'The Mousetrap' by Agatha Christie, started its run at the Ambassadors Theatre on the 25 November 1952, with Richard Attenborough and his wife Sheila Sim heading the cast, before moving to the St. Martin's Theatre next door in 1974, where it is still going strong today. In November 2012 the production celebrated its 60th year in the West End. An advertisement carried in a programme for 'Simple Spyman' at the Whitehall Theatre in the 1950s (shown here) shows two women outside the Ambassadors Theatre during the 6th year of 'The Moustrap'. Even then it had clocked up over 2,000 performances and was being billed as the longest running play in the history of British theatre.

Right - An early Programme for 'The Mousetrap' at the Ambassadors Theatre with Richard Attenborough still in the cast, although his wife, Sheila Sim, was no longer in the play. - Click to see the Entire Programme.

Right - An advertisement carried in a programme for 'Simple Spyman' at the Whitehall Theatre in the 1950s - Courtesy George Richmond.

The Ambassadors Theatres is currently owned by Delfont Mackintosh Theatres who plan to reconstruct the Theatre internally and rename it the Sondheim Theatre, their plans for this can be read on their own website here.

London's West End Theatres

Adelphi Aldwych Ambassadors Apollo Apollo Victoria Arts Cambridge Charing Cross Theatre Criterion Dominion Drury Lane Duchess Duke Of Yorks Fortune Garrick Gielgud Harold Pinter Haymarket Her Majesty's Leicester Square Theatre London Coliseum London Palladium Lyceum Lyric Menier Chocolate Factory New London Noel Coward Novello Old Vic Palace Peacock Phoenix Piccadilly Playhouse Prince Edward Prince of Wales Queen's Royal Opera House Sadler's Wells Theatre Savoy Shaftesbury St. Martin's Trafalgar Studios / Whitehall Vaudeville Victoria Palace Wyndham's

 

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