The Aldwych Theatre was built in 1905 on the newly built road from which it takes its name. Though built as a pair with the Novello Theatre (known as the Waldorf at this time) by the same designer, W. G. R. Sprague, they were funded and managed by different entities, with Seymour Hicks and the American impresario Charles Frohman taking control of the Aldwych. Together they produced several musical comedies in the theatre’s early years, including the opening production Blue Bell, which starred Mr Hicks himself. The Aldwych Theatre is designed in an Edwardian Baroque style.
The Aldwych became renowned for the quality of the shows produced, particularly the series of comedies which played at the theatre beginning in 1925. These plays were written by Ben Travers and became known as ‘The Aldwych Farces’ over their eight-year hold on the theatre. Following these plays the theatre was bought by the Abrahams family and managed by Prince Littler, who steered the tone of the plays presented into more dramatic territory, notably seeing Vivien Leigh take to the stage in A Streetcar named Desire in 1949, directed by her then husband Laurence Olivier.
The 1960s saw the Aldwych become renowned for another series of plays, this time governed by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Commencing in December 1960, their reign lasted for 21 years and saw some of Britain’s best known and respected actors grace the stage in the works of the Bard.
Following this tenure, the Aldwych Theatre was bought by the Nederlander Organization who still own it today and have led the theatre from strength to strength with the productions they have secured for the house – a mix of comedies, dramas, musicals and star performers have found success at the Aldwych.
The Tony and Olivier Award-winning musical Beautiful – The Carole King Musical told the story of iconic songwriter Carole King, and in 2018 the theatre currently hosts another jukebox musical about a legedary female musican, Tina - The Tina Turner Musical.
The auditorium has three levels – Stalls, Dress Circle and Grand Circle.
In the Stalls there is a good rake for the seating which allows for good visibility of the stage. The overhang of the Dress Circle blocks the top of the stage from Row L onwards.
The Dress Circle is on an excellent rake too and there isn’t a safety bar at the front meaning that there is a great view from most seats. The Grand Circle overhangs from Row B and affects the view from Row E.
The Grand Circle is very high in this theatre, and it should be noted that seats in Row D onwards do not have armrests and are fixed seats.