Theatre is an Art Deco masterpiece in the West End.
Built by Bertie Crewe and Edward A. Stone for Edward Laurillard, its simple facade conceals a grandiose Art Deco interior designed by Marc-Henri Levy and Gaston Laverdet, with a 1232-seat auditorium decorated in shades of pink. Gold and green are the dominant colours in the bars and foyer, which include the original light fittings. Upon its opening on 27 April 1928, the theatre's souvenir brochure claimed, "If all the bricks used in the building were laid in a straight line, they would stretch from London to Paris." The opening production, Jerome Kern's musical Blue Eyes
, starred Evelyn Laye, one of the most acclaimed actresses of the period.
was briefly taken over by Warner Brothers, and operated as a cinema using the Vitaphone system, and premièred the first talking picture to be shown in Great Britain, The Singing Fool
with Al Jolson. The theatre reopened in November 1929, with a production of The Student Prince
, having a success in January 1931 with Folly to be Wise, running for 257 performances.
Following a conversion into a cabaret restaurant, the theatre reopened in April 1936 as the London Casino, which became noted for its lavish stage shows. The building sustained considerable damage when it was hit by a stray German bomb during World War II. After renovations in the early 1950s, it returned to its original name and became a venue for plays, revues and musicals.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the Piccadilly
improved its reputation with a series of successful transfers from Broadway
: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
, A Streetcar Named Desire
and Man of La Mancha
made their London debuts at the theatre. The Beatles recorded a number of songs at the Piccadilly
on 28 February 1964 for the BBC Radio show, 'From Us to You'. In 1976, the Jerome Kern and Guy Bolton musical Very Good Eddie
ran for 411 performances at the theatre. The cast included Prue Clarke.
In 1986, the venue was the setting for ITV's popular Sunday evening variety show, Live From the Piccadilly
, hosted by Jimmy Tarbuck. The 1990s witnessed an expansion in ballet and dance, notably the most successful commercial ballet season ever to play in the West End, including Matthew Bourne's acclaimed production of Swan
The Donmar Warehouse
production of Guys and Dolls
ran at the Piccadilly
from 19 May 2005 to 14 April 2007. It was followed by Paul Nicholas and David Ian's production of Grease
which opened on 8 August 2007 and was the longest running show in the theatre's history before closing in April 2011.