Piccadilly Theatre History and Timeline

Privates on Parade opens

Privates on Parade opens

1978-02-08

The RSC's production of 'Private on Parade' by Peter Nichols opened at the Piccadilly, running for six months. This play with music starred Denis Quilley, Emma Williams, Tim Wylton and Joe Melia. Directed by Michael Blakemore, the production gained excellent notices, with the style of the production particularly praised.

Shockheaded Peter opens

Shockheaded Peter opens

2002-04-11

This highly original musical originated at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, before opening at the Piccadilly in 2002. Based on the German children's book 'Der Struwwelpeter', the production used elements of pantomime and puppetry to set a dark and violent tone. The show won the 2002 Olivier Award for Best Entertainment as well as the Olivier for Best Performance in a Supporting Role for Martyn Jacques.

The Piccadilly Theatre opens

The Piccadilly Theatre opens

1928-04-27

The grand art-deco building opened its doors to the public in 1928, with a production of Jerome Kern's musical 'Blue Eyes' starring Evelyn Laye. The venue was built by Bertie Crewe and featured an interior designed by Marc-Henri Levy and Gaston Laverdet. The auditorium seated 1,232 patrons across three levels.

The Piccadilly premieres England's first talking picture

The Piccadilly premieres England's first talking picture

1934-01-01

The venue was briefly used as a cinema after it was taken over by Warner Brothers. It was fitted with the Vitaphone system, and the first film to be shown was 'The Singing Fool' starring Al Jolson.

The venue opens as The London Casino

The venue opens as The London Casino

1936-04-01

The theatre was converted into a cabaret restaurant and renamed The London Casino. It began to stage lavish shows featuring a wide range of cabaret artists and acts.

The building is bombed during the Second World War

The building is bombed during the Second World War

1940-01-01

The theatre closed during the Second World War and was damaged by German bombers during air raids on London. It was refurbished throughout the early 1950s, opening again in 1955 with a production of 'The Jazz Train' which starred Edric Connor, Lucy Guannel and Beatrice Reading.

The Rape of the Belt

The Rape of the Belt

1957-01-01

Benn Wolfe Levy’s play The Rape of the Belt runs at the theatre. This is Levy’s last play before he gives up theatre for a career in politics. He is elected as an MP for the Labour Party in the Eton and Sough constituency in 1945.

The Piccadilly houses Broadway transfers

The Piccadilly houses Broadway transfers

1960-01-01

Throughout the 1960s and 70s the theatre was used as the London home of many successful Broadway productions. Jerry Bock's musical 'Fiorello!' (1962) ran at the theatre, along with 'Man of La Mancha' (1968) and 'Oliver' (1967). Hit plays such as Albee's 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1964) and Tennessee Williams' 'A Streetcar Named Desire' (1974) also had their London premieres at the Playhouse.

Jean Anouilh’s Dear Antoine

Jean Anouilh’s Dear Antoine

1971-01-01

Jean Anouilh’s Dear Antoine runs at the Piccadilly Theatre. The French play is set in Bavaria, where the now-deceased Atoine’s ex-wives gather for the reading of his will, but are trapped by an avalanche.

The London production of Gypsy opened

The London production of Gypsy opened

1973-05-29

The first (and only) London production of 'Gypsy' opened at the Playhouse starring Angela Lansbury in the role of Mama Rose. Directed by Arthur Laurents, the show featured the original Broadway choreography by Jerome Robbins. A young Bonnie Langford starred as Baby June, with Barrie Ingham as Herbie and Zan Charisse as Louise.

Wild Oats

Wild Oats

1977-06-20

Irish playwright John O’Keefe’s Wild Oats is revived by the RSC. Written in 1791, the comedy of confusion and mistaken identity starred Jeremy Irons and Sinead Cusack.

Educating Rita transfers

Educating Rita transfers

1980-09-01

Educating Rita, Willy Russell’s well-known play, transfers from the Donmar Warehouse where it premiered. The story of a university academic and a working class hairdresser proves to be so popular that the show runs for 3 years.

Piaf transfers to The Piccadilly

Piaf transfers to The Piccadilly

1980-03-14

Pam Gems' play 'Piaf' originated at the RSC in a production which starred Jane Lapotaire and Ian Charleson. After opening in Stratford Upon Avon in 1978, it moved to the Donmar Warehouse in London, followed by the Aldwych Theatre, before arriving at the Piccadilly in April 1980. Based on the life of French singer Edith Piaf, the biographical drama featured her songs, displaying the artist in a negative light.

'I' ends in disaster

'I' ends in disaster

1983-03-16

A new dinner theatre and cabaret mysteriously titled ‘I’ opens, runs for a few performances, then closes. The show’s over-reliance on spectacle and magic results in a technological disaster. The show is heavily re-worked and re-titled ‘Y’, then opens on 27 June and runs for a year.

Mutiny!

Mutiny!

1985-07-22

Mutiny!, by David Essex and directed by Michael Bogdanov, runs for 526 performances. The musical based on Mutiny on the Bounty began as a concept album and received damning reviews, but the producers saw promise in the show so kept it running.

Live From... broadcasts

Live From... broadcasts

1986-09-28

Live From…, a weekly TV variety show, starts broadcasting from the Piccadilly for 6 episodes. Hosted by Jimmy Tarbuck, the show is known for Tommy Cooper suffering a heart attack and dying on stage in 1984.

A Little Night Music is revived in the West End

A Little Night Music is revived in the West End

1989-10-06

Sondheim's musical based on Bergman's 'Smiles of a Summer Night' enjoyed a brief revival at the Piccadilly Theatre, in a production directed by Ian Judge with choreography by Anthony Van Laast. Deborah Poplett starred as Anne Egerman, alongside Alexander Hanson as Henrik, Peter McEnery as Fredrik, and Dorothy Tutin as Desiree.  

Two Flop Musicals, Moby Dick & Which Witch

Two Flop Musicals, Moby Dick & Which Witch

1992-01-01

Two epic flop musicals followed at the Piccadilly Theatre in quick succession. The first came from Producer Cameron Mackintosh, who mounted a full scale production of 'Moby Dick the Musical'. The show was universally panned and only managed to run for 4 months. This was followed by a Norwegian musical by Benedicte Adrian and Ingrid Bjørnov. Written as a 'rock opera' it was savaged by the critics, with many of them calling it the worst musical in history. It ran for just 76 performances.

Pam Gems' Piaf

Pam Gems' Piaf

1993-12-01

Pam Gems’ Piaf is revived, starring Elaine Paige in the title role of Edith Piaf. Though Gems’ script is frequently criticised, Paige’s performance is praised.

Mack and Mabel is revived

Mack and Mabel is revived

1995-11-07

Michael Stewart and Jerry Herman’s Mack and Mabel is revived at the Piccadilly Theatre. The story of the relationship between a Hollywood director and actress underwent major changes for this production starring Howard McGillin and Caroline O'Connor in the title roles.

Peter Hall's The School for Wives

Peter Hall's The School for Wives

1997-02-11

Peter Hall Company opens its production of Moliere’s The School for Wives, translated by Ranjit Bolt. Peter Hall directed the play.

Spend, Spend, Spend opens

Spend, Spend, Spend opens

1999-10-12

This fun musical was written by Steve Brown and followed a Yorkshire housewife who won the football pools. Her rags to riches story originally opened at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, transferring to the Piccadilly Theatre in 1999. The original production was directed by Jeremy Sams, featuring Choreography by Craig Revel Horwood. Barbara Dickson and Steven Houghton starred in the original cast. The show was nominated for 7 Olivier Awards including Best Musical, and took home the Evening Standard Award and Critics Circle Award for Best Musical.

My One and Only opens

My One and Only opens

2002-02-25

This Gershwin jukebox musical originally opened on Broadway in 1983, directed and choreographed by Tommy Tune. The first UK production opened at the Chichester Festival Theatre and later transferred to the Piccadilly starring Janie Dee and Tim Flavin. Loveday Ingram directed the musical, which featured choreography by Craig Revel Horwood.

Noises Off transfers

Noises Off transfers

2003-08-13

Michael Frayn’s backstage comedy Noises Off transfers from the National Theatre. Lynn Redgrave and Stephen Mangan star.

Ragtime has its London premiere

Ragtime has its London premiere

2003-03-18

The hit Broadway musical by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens opened at the Piccadilly Theatre in a production by Sonia Friedman. Based on the novel of the same name by E.L Doctorow, the London production was far less lavish than the Broadway original. Maria Friedman starred as Mother, for which she won the 2004 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical.

Tom Stoppard's Jumpers

Tom Stoppard's Jumpers

2003-11-20

A revival of Tom Stoppard’s Jumpers opens starring Simon Russell Beale and later transfers to Broadway.

The London premiere of Jailhouse Rock

The London premiere of Jailhouse Rock

2004-04-16

The Elvis musical 'Jailhouse Rock' opened at the Piccadilly in March 2004 and managed to run for a respectable year. Directed by Rob Bettinson, the show was based on the film of the same name. The original cast included Mario Kombou, Lisa Peace, Roger Alborough and Mark Roper.

Guys and Dolls opens

Guys and Dolls opens

2005-06-01

Donmar Warehouse Artitstic Director Michael Grandage directed a brand new production of 'Guys and Dolls' which ran at the Piccadilly Theatre from 2005. The original cast included Ewan McGregor as Sky along with Jenna Russell as Sarah Brown and Douglas Hodge as Nathan Detroit. The production was high successful, and transfers to the cast helped boost ticket sales throughout the run. Patrick Swayze, Sally Ann Triplett, Nigel Lindsay, Neil Morrissey and Claire Sweeney all joined the cast before it closed in 2007.

Grease the Musical is revived

Grease the Musical is revived

2007-08-08

A nationwide search to find the next Danny and Sandy led to a new West End reivival of 'Grease' at the Piccadilly Theatre, directed by David Gilmore with choreography by Arlene Phillips. Danny Bayne and Susan McFadden won the highly coveted roles, decided by the ITV audience. Producer David Ian was on the judging panel and co-produced the show, which was a re-revival of the 1993 Dominion production.

Ray Quinn joins Grease cast

Ray Quinn joins Grease cast

2008-06-16

Ray Quinn, who was X-Factor 2006 runner up to Leona Lewis, plays Doody in Grease for a limited run. Quinn later returns to play Danny Zuko and meets his future wife, Emma Stephens, whilst the two are performing in the show.

Grease celebrates 1000 shows

Grease celebrates 1000 shows

2009-12-16

Grease celebrates its 1000 show at the Piccadilly Theatre. Producers celebrate by releasing details of the cast who will be starting in the new year: Noel Sullivan and Siobhan Dillon play Danny and Sandy, along with Matthew Goodgame (‘Kenickie'), Victoria Hamilton-Barritt (‘Rizzo'), Lucas Rush (‘Roger'), Hayley Gallivan (‘Jan'), Benjamin Ibbott (‘Doody'), Faye Brookes (‘Frenchy'), Bennett Andrews (‘Sonny'), Robyn Mellor (‘Marty'), Michael Vinsen (‘Eugene'), Susannah Allman (‘Patty'), Jason Capewell (‘Vince/Teen Angel'), Kerry Winter ‘(Miss Lynch') and Stephanie Powell (‘Cha Cha').

Ghost the Musical has its World Premiere

Ghost the Musical has its World Premiere

2011-07-19

Based on the hit 1990 romantic drama, Ghost the Musical was an original musical with music and lyrics by Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard. The production was directed by Matthew Warchus and featured impressive stage designs by Rob Howell. The original cast included Richard Fleeshman as Sam and Caissie Levy as Molly. The musical was nominated for five Olivier Awards, but failed to take home any.

Viva Forever opens at the Piccadilly

Viva Forever opens at the Piccadilly

2012-12-11

The ill-fated Spice Girls musical has its world premiere at the Piccadilly Theatre in November 2012. Featuring a book by Jennifer Saunders, the production was funded and produced by Judy Craymer. The show became famous for receieving the worst set of reviews of all time and closed with a loss of £5 million. Despite the endorsment of the 5 original Spice Girls, the show failed to win audiences.

Dirty Dancing returns to the West End

Dirty Dancing returns to the West End

2013-07-07

After originally playing at the Aldwych Theatre, 'Dirty Dancing Live On Stage' returned to the West End at the Piccadilly Theatre during the summer of 2013. Jill Winternitz starred as Baby Houseman, with Paul Michael Jones taking on the role of Johnny Castle.

Jersey Boys transfers to the Piccadilly

Jersey Boys transfers to the Piccadilly

2014-03-14

The hit West End production of 'Jersey Boys' opens at the Piccadilly Theatre after a knockout 5 years at the Prince Edward Theatre.  

Jersey Boys extends

Jersey Boys extends

2015-06-02

Jersey Boys has announced it is extending its run at the Piccadilly Theatre until 14 February 2016. The show is continuing to do well after its transfer from the Prince Edward Theatre.

Jersey Boys cast change

Jersey Boys cast change

2016-03-15

In big casting news, there are big changes happening at Jersey Boys. The four new Seasons are Matt Corner as Frankie Valli, Simon Bailey as Tommy De Vito, Declan Egan as Bob Gaudio and Matt Hunt as Nick Massi, with Dayle Hodge playing Frankie Valli at some performances.

Jersey Boys to close

Jersey Boys to close

2016-09-29

Jersey Boys announces it will close in March 2017 but the show will be going on tour. The producers expressed their thanks to audiences for the show’s success.

Annie revival opens

Annie revival opens

2017-05-23

Annie opens, starring comedian Miranda Hart as Miss Hannigan. This classic musical tells the story of little orphan Annie living in an orphanage during the Great Depression and never giving up hope of finding a family. The production is directed by Nikolai Foster.

Meera Syal plays Miss Hannigan

Meera Syal plays Miss Hannigan

2017-11-27

Meera Syal begins playing Miss Hannigan, following on from Craig Revel Horwood. The run of the show has also been extended to 18 February 2018.

Strictly judge joins Annie

Strictly judge joins Annie

2017-09-19

Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood takes over from Miranda Hart as Miss Hannigan for a limited 10-week run.

Strictly Ballroom opens

Strictly Ballroom opens

2018-03-28

Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom the Musical opens at the Piccadilly Theatre. Johnny Labey and Zizi Strallen star as couple Scott and Fran, and Will Young plays the Band Leader.