The Novello Theatre opened on 22 May 1905 as the Waldorf Theatre. Managed by the Shubert Organisztion, the theatre was built as a pair with the Aldwych Theatre in a design by W. G. R. Sprague. The theatre has had several name changes, the first occurring in 1909 when it became the Strand Theatre, likely due to its location being just off the Strand. In 1911 the name was changed to the Whitney Theatre before reverting back to the Strand Theatre in 1913. This is how it remained until 2005 when Sir Cameron Mackintosh bought the theatre through Delfont Mackintosh Theatres and renamed it the Novello Theatre after Ivor Novello, who owned a flat above the theatre, which he lived in from 1913 to 1951.
The theatre has been refurbished three times in its lifetime, once in 1930, again in the early 1970s and most recently in 2005 when it was lovingly restored by Cameron Mackintosh’s company for its 100th anniversary.
The Novello Theatre has played host to several successful productions, including the 1941 premiere of the black comedy Arsenic and Old Lace, which enjoyed a run of 1337 performances. The comedy Sailor, Beware! Opened in 1955 for a run of 1231 performances. Sondheim’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum had its West End premiere in 1963 and stayed for two years, and the hugely successful comedy No Sex Please, We’re British ran for 10 years from 1971 before transferring to the Garrick Theatre.
The auditorium has four levels - Stalls, Dress Circle, Grand Circle and Balcony.