The Ambassadors Theatre opened in 1913, and was designed by W. G. R. Sprague. It was built as a companion to St Martin’s Theatre, with the intention of housing smaller productions in a more intimate venue. Its location, opposite The Ivy restaurant, was considered to be ideal for the theatrical elite who frequented the renowned restaurant.
The first play to perform here, Panthea, lasted just 15 nights. Afterwards, the management of the theatre was taken over by Charles B. Cochran, who turned the theatre’s success around with the arrival of Paris’ latest form of entertainment, the ‘intimate’ revue. Playing over 400 performances in 1914, Odds and Ends returned in 1915.
Dramatic plays made their mark on the theatre in the 1920s, including a performance from Ivor Novello (in Deburau, his stage debut), the premiere of Eugene O’Neill’s play The Emperor Jones, and the opportunity for Laurence Olivier to see the stage debut of his future wife, Vivien Leigh.
The Ambassadors was the first home for Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap. The show played here from 1952 until 1973, when it transferred to its companion theatre, the St Martin's Theatre, where it still runs today.
Following a change of hands in 1996 to its namesake company the Ambassador Theatre Group, the theatre was redeveloped into two small spaces and the Royal Court held a residency there until 1999.
The name reverted to The Ambassadors in 2007, and more commercial type shows began appearing again, such as the Menier Chocolate Factory’s revival of Little Shop of Horrors and a decade-long run of Stomp. Now, the Ambassadors is typically home to limited engagements of star-studded productions.
Ambassadors Theatre Seating Information
The auditorium has two levels – Stalls and Dress Circle. Whilst an intimate space, there are a couple of obstacles patrons may wish to be aware of.
In the Stalls, the rake of the seating becomes obvious from Row E and is quite a sharp rake, but the last two rows are set lower than those in front. The overhang of the Dress Circle affects the view from Row M.
The Dress Circle is not affected by an overhang, but the legroom on this level is not ideal.