The Savoy Theatre that stands today opened on 21st October 1929. The first production to play in this theatre was a revival of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Gondoliers. There had previously been another theatre on this site which had opened on 10th October 1881. Designed by C. J. Phipps, the building was known for being the first public building to be lit entirely by electricity. It was commissioned by Ricahard D’Oyly Carte to replace the old Savoy Palace that had stood on the same site. It was intended to be the theatrical home of the Gilbert and Sullivan comic operas, which would eventually become known as the Savoy operas. The interior took on the style of the Italian renaissance, with shades of gold, pale yellow and white ordaining the space, flanked by red boxes and lined with dark blue seats. Intricate detailing seen in other West End theatre auditoriums at the time was dismissed in favour of a plainer style, so as not to deter the target middle-class audience.
This building was demolished in 1929 and reopened later in the year as the building we see today. The theatre was completed with an elaborate interior by designer Frank A. Tugwell. The ceiling was painted to look like an April sky, the seating was upholstered in various colours, and the walls were an art deco creation of translucent gold on silver. When a fire ravaged the theatre in 1990, destroying the interior, it was meticulously restored by Sir William Whitfield to the original 1929 designs. The theatre reopened on 19th July 1993.
The D’Oyly Carte Opera Company has played several seasons at the theatre over the past 20 years, their last production being HMS Pinafore in 2003. The theatre has also housed several musicals, including She Loves Me in 1994 starring John Gordon Sinclair and Ruthie Henshall, and has played host to musicals exclusively since 2006.
The theatre is currently owned by the Ambassador Theatre Group.
The auditorium has three levels - Stalls, Dress Circle and Grand Circle.
In the Stalls, the overhang of the Dress Circle affects the view from Row O onwards, but the legroom throughout is very good, and the seating is well raked to ensure good views.
In the Dress Circle, the overhang of the Grand Circle affects the view from Row K onwards. The amount of legroom also decreases the further back you sit.
The Grand Circle feels rather far from the stage, and the legroom at this level is not great.