The Fortune Theatre opened on 8th November 1924, the first theatre to be built in London after World War I. Laurence Cowen commissioned Ernest Schaufelberg to design the theatre for a site opposite the Theatre Royal Drury Lane that used to play host to a popular drinking spot for Georgian and Victorian actors, the Albion Tavern. Laurence Cowen also wrote the first play that was performed here, Sinners, which unfortunately only played for two weeks!
During the 1930s, the Fortune Theatre hosted a plethora of works including several from amateur societies, and was used during World War II by the Entertainments National Service Association, who provided entertainment for the British armed forces. Following the war, the theatre has welcomed some of the entertainment industries elite with Dame Judi Dench, Maureen Lipman, Alan Bennett and Flanders & Swann all appearing well into the 1980s. Other notable shows to play this venue include the musicals Mr. Cinders in 1983 and Nunsense in 1987.
But the Fortune Theatre is most famous for hosting its current production, The Woman in Black, which has played at the theatre since June 1989 and is the second longest running play in the West End, beaten only by The Mousetrap.
The theatre is currently owned by the Ambassador Theatre Group.
The auditorium has three levels – Stalls, Dress Circle and Upper Circle. The Fortune Theatre is the second smallest West End house and offers a very inclusive theatrical experience.
The Stalls offers good legroom throughout, but the raking of the seating only really affects the last few rows of seats.
The Dress Circle legroom is less desirable, but the seats still allow good views.
The Upper Circle is set relatively high in the theatre for such a small space, set back from the Dress Circle.