Comedy Theatre

Coordinates: 51°30′35″N 0°07′51″W / 51.509778°N 0.130722°W / 51.509778; -0.130722

The Harold Pinter Theatre formerly the Comedy Theatre until 2011, is a West End theatre, and opened on Panton Street in the City of Westminster, on 15 October 1881, as the Royal Comedy Theatre. It was designed by Thomas Verity and built in just six months in painted (stucco) stone and brick. By 1884 it was known as just the Comedy Theatre. In the mid-1950s the theatre went under major reconstruction and re-opened in December 1955, the auditorium remains essentially that of 1881, with three tiers of horseshoe shaped balconies.

History

In 1883, the successful operetta Falka had its London première at the theatre, and in 1885, Erminie did the same. The theatre's reputation grew through World War I when Charles Blake Cochran and André Charlot presented their famous revue shows. Famous actors who appeared here include Henry Daniell who played John Carlton in Secrets in September 1929.

The theatre was notable for the role it played in overturning stage censorship by establishing the New Watergate Club in 1956, under producer Anthony Field. The outdated Theatres Act 1843 still required scripts to be submitted for approval by the Lord Chamberlain's Office. Formation of the club allowed plays that had been banned due to language or subject matter to be performed under 'club' conditions. Plays produced in this way included the UK premières of Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge, Robert Anderson's Tea and Sympathy and Tennessee Williams' Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. The law was not revoked until 1968, but in the late 1950s there was a loosening of conditions in theatre censorship, the club was dissolved and Peter Shaffer's Five Finger Exercise premièred to a public audience..

The theatre is a part of the Ambassador Theatre Group.

The theatre was Grade II listed by English Heritage in June 1972.

Renaming

On 7 September 2011 it was announced that the theatre's owner, Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) would be renaming The Comedy Theatre to The Harold Pinter Theatre from Thursday 13th October 2011.Howard Panter, Joint Chief Executive and Creative Director of ATG told the BBC "The work of Pinter has become an integral part of the history of the Comedy Theatre. The re-naming of one of our most successful West End theatres is a fitting tribute to a man who made such a mark on British theatre who, over his 50 year career, became recognised as one of the most influential modern British dramatists."

Recent and present productions
  • Steptoe and Son in Murder at Oil Drum Lane (22 February 2006 - 15 April 2006) by Roy Galton and John Antrobus
  • Donkeys' Years (9 May 2006 - 15 December 2006) by Michael Frayn, starring Samantha Bond, David Haig, Mark Addy and James Dreyfus
  • The Rocky Horror Show (18 December 2006 - 29 January 2007) by Richard O'Brien, starring David Bedella and Suzanne Shaw
  • Boeing-Boeing (5 February 2007 - 5 January 2008) by Marc Camoletti, starring Roger Allam, Frances de la Tour, Mark Rylance, Daisy Beaumont, Tamzin Outhwaite, Amy Nuttall, Rhea Perlman, Jean Marsh, Jennifer Ellison, Tracey-Ann Oberman and Kevin McNally
  • The Lover/The Collection (12 January 2008 - 3 May 2008) by Harold Pinter, starring Timothy West, Gina McKee, Charlie Cox and Richard Coyle
  • Dickens Unplugged (23 May 2008 - 29 June 2008) by Adam Long
  • Sunset Boulevard (4 December 2008 - 30 May 2009) by Andrew Lloyd Webber, directed by Craig Revel Horwood
  • Too Close to the Sun (24 July - 8 August 2009), world premiere of a new musical about Ernest Hemingway
  • Prick Up Your Ears (30 September - 6 December 2009) by Simon Bent, starring Matt Lucas and Chris New
  • La Bête (8 July - 4 September 2010) by David Hirson, starring Mark Rylance, David Hyde Pierce and Joanna Lumley
  • Birdsong (28 September 2010 - 15 January 2011) based on the book by Sebastian Faulk starring Ben Barnes
  • The Children's Hour (22 January - 30 April 2011), Lillian Hellman’s play, starring Keira Knightley
  • Harold Pinter's Betrayal (currently showing until 20 August 2011), starring Kristin Scott Thomas, Douglas Henshall and Ben Miles
  • Ariel Dorfman's Death and the Maiden starring Thandie Newton,Tom Goodman-Hill and Anthony Calf

Building Activity

  • OpenBuildings
    OpenBuildings updated 8 media and uploaded a media file
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    about 5 years ago via OpenBuildings.com
  • Georgi Sokolov
    Georgi Sokolov activity.buildings_person.create
    about 5 years ago via OpenBuildings.com