Theatre Facts

Even More Quick Facts

  1. In 1948 Diana Wynard fell 15 foot into the orchestra pit while playing Lady Macbeth. She insisted on playing the sleep walking scene with her eyes shut. Amazingly, she was relatively unhurt and continued the play.
  2. A ghost, the lady in grey, haunts Newcastle Theatre Royal. Apparently she fell to her death stretching over the balcony for an actor she was in love with.
  3. The Victoria Quarter shopping precinct in Leeds was originally part of a theatre complex designed by Frank Matcham.
  4. Composer Lionel Bart (real name Lionel Begleiter) took his name from St Bart's Hospital.
  5. Clowning left Joseph Grimaldi crippled by the end of his life. Theatre Royal Drury Lane gave him a pension of £100 per year
  6. TV magician Paul Daniels designed the magic tricks used in Cats and Phantom of the Opera.
  7. West Side Story's Gee Officer Krupke originally ended with the line "f**k you!" but was changed for the cast album to avoid obscenity laws.
  8. Sadler's Wells is so called because of natural springs found during the theatre's construction.
  9. The Donmar Warehouse takes its name from Donald Albery and Margot Fonteyn who bought the warehouse for rehearsal space.
  10. The original Shakespeare's Globe was 750 feet away from the modern replica. In the 16th century, the new site would have been in the river!
  11. The musical Hair was forced to close in 1973 when the roof of the Shaftesbury Theatre collapsed.
  12. The Windmill Theatre & Open Air Theatre were the only theatres in London to remain open throughout World War II.
  13. The Barbican Centre is the largest performing arts centre in Europe.
  14. Ancient Greek theatre masks had cork mouth pieces that acted like megaphones.
  15. The Vaudeville Theatre was originally a billiards hall.
  16. Ivor Novello lived above the Novello Theatre for nearly 40 years.
  17. The Palace Theatre has two seats permantly bolted open for the theatre ghosts to sit in.
  18. During WWII the London Coliseum was used as a canteen for air raid patrol workers.
  19. Ancient Greek audiences stamped their feet instead of clapping to show their appreciation.
  20. During the Blitz, John Gielgud became the fire warden for Theatre Royal Haymarket.
  21. The steepest balcony level seating in London is at the Apollo Theatre.
  22. The first Madame Tussaud's waxworks exhibition in London was held in 1802 at the Lyceum Theatre.
  23. The Soho Theatre used to be a Synagogue
  24. While playing a hypochondriac in his play Le Malade imaginaire, Molière had a coughing fit and died of a haemorrhage. He did not however die on stage as legend often claims.
  25. The Savoy Theatre was the first theatre to be lit entirely with electric lights.
  26. Novelist and disgraced politician Jeffrey Archer used to own the Playhouse Theatre.
  27. Before Mussolini was infamous as a dictator, he wrote a play called Napoleon which played at the New Theatre ( now the Noel Coward Theatre) in 1932.
  28. The shortest run in West End history was The Intimate Review. It closed before the end of it's first performance!
  29. Shakespeare's Globe on the South Bank is the only building in London allowed to have a thatched roof since the Great Fire in 1666.
  30. To save the Lyric Hammersmith from demolition it was dismantled and moved a few meters down the road.
  31. Plans to open the National Theatre started in 1848. The complex on Southbank didn't open untill 1976!
  32. The word tragedy comes from the Greek words tragos and ode, which roughly translates as goat song.
  33. The most modern ghost in the West End is thought to be actress Evelyn Laye, who died in 1996 and haunts the Piccadilly Theatre.
  34. The original concept for West Side Story was East Side Story - A Jew and a Catholic fall in love.
  35. RADA started its life as a drama class held in the domed roof of Her Majesty's Theatre.
  36. In 1599, Shakespearean clown William Kempe morris danced from London to Norwich.  It took him 9 days.
  37. The Queen's Theatre is believed to have the West End's only gay ghost.
  38. The Theatre Royal Haymarket was originally known as the Little Theatre In The Hay.
  39. The BBC used the Criterion Theatre as a subterranean radio studio during the Blitz.
  40. In 1606, William Shakespeare had to play Lady Macbeth when Hal Berridge, the boy playing her, died suddenly.
  41. Saying "Break A Leg" in the theatre didn't start until the 1920s.
  42. The Dominion Theatre, home to We Will Rock You, turns into a church every Sunday.
  43. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart once lived in a house on the present site of the Prince Edward Theatre's stage door.
  44. The gilded statue adorning the top of the Victoria Palace is of prima ballerina Anna Pavlova.


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