The Piccadilly Theatre was designed by Bertie Crewe and Edward Stone. The Theatre opened on the twenty-seventh of April 1928. This enormous building claims to be composed of enough bricks to stretch from London to Paris. The theatre was recently refurbished and the 1400 seats were reduced to 1232 over three floors to increase comfort. Though spectacular from the outside- the Art Deco interior of the building is breathtaking and a really fine example of the style.
The first production at the Piccadilly Theatre was the musical ‘Blue Eyes’ starring Evelyn Laye and written by Jerome Kern. History was made in the Theatres opening year when the first ever talking movie to be shown in Britain was played at the Piccadilly- It was Al Jolson’s second movie ‘The Singing Fool’. The Piccadilly embraced the ‘talkies’ and they continued to be shown here for the next few years.
Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit premiered here in 1941 starring Margaret Rutherford and receiving rave reviews. Edwards Albee’s ‘Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf’ moved to the Piccadilly- bringing with it the original cast from Broadway including Uta Hagen and Arthur Hill. The Stephen Sondheim collaboration musical ‘Gypsy’ opened in spring 1973 with Angela Lansbury in the lead role. Lansbury was later succeeded by Dolores Gray. Henry Fonda’s one man show ‘Clarence Darrow’ marked Fonda’s West End theatre debut here in 1975.
Though a magnificent building- the Piccadilly Theatre suffers from being concealed from much of Piccadilly Circus. This may explain why the Piccadilly Theatre has a history of short running productions. However despite the position of the building it is modern and equipped to stage all but the most complex of productions.