The Queen's Theater opened on October 8, 1907 and was the second of a couple of theaters to open on Shaftesbury Avenue within a ten-month period. The Gielgud Theater, as it is known today, had its grand opening before the Queen on a neighboring corner of Shaftesbury Avenue. The architect of both theaters was WGR Sprague.
The Queen was the seventh London West Side theater that Sprague had designed. He had also been the architect of many theaters outside London. The Queen was slightly larger than her counterpart, with space for over 1000. Like most of Sprague's creations, the Queen was architecturally excellent, with a dominant facade typical of the early 1900's. s London. Most of the building's architectural features were of the Edwardian Renaissance style, but there were also a host of other styles present.
There had been much anticipation of the theater's opening, which turned out to be poorly founded. The first offering presented was Sugar Bowl, a comedy by Madeleine Lucette Riley. After only thirty-six performances, it closed, followed by a variety of plays and comedies that were equally successful. Over the next few years, several innovations have been tested with limited success. Henry Brodribb Irving, Henry Irving's eldest son, staged his father's classic, Hamlet and The Bells. A few years later, Queen Tango Teas was implemented.
Many of the playgrounds were removed and replaced with tables and chairs where afternoon tea could be taken when the latest tango dance techniques were performed on stage.
The first truly successful piece that reached the Queen's boards was in April 1914 when Potash and Perlmutter were staged. Written by Montague Glass and contained story lines about two Jewish Americans living in New York City. Despite troubled conditions in Europe at that time, or perhaps because of them, the game was a resounding success with over 600 performances. After the war, the heart-cold Owen Nares appeared for two years in The House of Peril, The Cinderella Man and Mr. Todd & # 39; s Experiment.
The following year saw a slate of actors and actresses adorn their stage which was the embodiment of great acting. Edith Evans, Cedric Hardwicke, John Gielgud, Sybil Thorndike, Margaret Rutherford, Rex Harrison, Robert Donat, John Mills, Fred & Adele Astaire, Tallulah Bankhead, Jack Hawkins, Gertrude Lawrence and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Would everyone adorn the marker in the following years before the Second World War.
In 1940, the Queen enjoyed the very successful Rebecca, with Owen Nares, Celia Johnson and Margaret Rutherford. Unfortunately, the theater took a direct hit during the Blitz flight in September. One of the most damaged of all London's theaters, the facade and the front areas was totally destroyed and killed three people. The theater would not see any activity on its boards until July 8, 1959, almost twenty years later. The opening gala garnered critical applause when John Gielgud performed Shakespearean speeches and sonnets, a one-man play called Ages of Man.
A Who & # 39; s Who of acting would start at Queen & # 39; s after the reopening and in the years that follow. Highly acclaimed gigs performed include The Aspern Papers, Othello, The Odd Couple, Halfway up a Tree, Stop the World I Want to Off, Hair, Otherwise Engaged, The Old Country, Shadowlands and Taming of the Shrew. Then, on April 3, 2004, Les Miserables moved there from the Palace Theater, where it had run for 18 years and 7,602 performances. Cameron Mackintosh's musical is still going strong at The Queen & Theater, twenty-two years after its opening performance.
By the way. The Queen has her share of ghost stories to tell. On various occasions you have seen a man, a Victorian lady and even a & # 39; gay & # 39; ghost who turns up to ignorant gentlemen and squeezes them on the derrier.