The original plan was to name this venue ’The Central Theatre’. After a lengthy debate involving the owners, it was named The Queen’s Theatre and a portrait of Queen Alexandra was hung in the foyer.
It opened on 8 October 1907 on the corner of Shafter\sbury Avenue as a twin to the neighbouring Hicks Theatre (now the Gielgud Theatre
) which had opened ten months earlier. Both theatres were designed by WGR Sprague.
In September 1940, a German bomb landed directly on the Queen’s Theatre, destroying the façade and lobby. The production at the time was Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca
starring Celia Johnson, Owen Nares and Margaret Rutherford. The theatre remained closed until a ₤250,000 restoration was completed by Westwood Sons & Partners almost 20 years later. The auditorium retained its Edwardian décor while the lobbies and exterior were rebuilt in a modern style. The reconstructed theatre opened on 8 July 1959 with John Gielgud’s solo performance in Shakespeare speeches and sonnets, Ages of Man
After 2004, the theatre played host to Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Les Misérables
which transferred after 18 years at the nearby Palace Theatre. The musical overtook Cats
as the longest running musical of all time on 8 October 2006.
An extensive refurbishment was undertaken in the latter half of 2009 which improved public areas and increased capacity with new seating and boxes reinstated at dress circle level.
The theatre was Grade II listed by English Heritage in June 1972.