Theatre Facts

Quick Facts

  1. Kicky Wicky is a Shakespearean word meaning wife.
  2. There are over 5000 books on the subject of the disputed authorship of Shakespeare's works.
  3. The largest operating theatrical wardrobe department in the world is at Walt Disney World, Florida housing 1.2 million costumes.
  4. Disney's The Lion King closely follows the plot of Shakespeare's Hamlet.
  5. Sheridan's “The Rivals” was an instant flop, so he rewrote it in just 10 days and it became a hit.
  6. André Tchaikowsky bequeathed his skull to the RSC, which was used to play the famous Yorick in the 2008 production of Hamlet.
  7. Cambridge Footlights is rumoured to be the only Cambridge club big and profitable enough to pay corporation tax.
  8. Princess Diana once danced with Wayne Sleep to a Billy Joel record on stage at The Royal Opera House.
  9. Dublin theatre manager James Daly allegedly invented the word "quiz" on a bet that he could introduce a new word into the English language.
  10. The world's tallest proscenium arch in a theatre is at the Siam Niramit, Bangkok. It is 11.95m high.
  11. David Garrick was taught at school by Samuel Johnson, the writer of the dictionary.
  12. The first theatre to be named after an actor was the Garrick Theatre, London. (1889).
  13. The Kit Kat Club in Berlin took it's name from the club in Kander & Ebb's “Cabaret”.
  14. Playwright Bertolt Brecht was exiled from Nazi Germany. Later while in the USA, he was interrogated by the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
  15. If a prompt desk is on stage right it is known as a Bastard Prompt.
  16. The world record for most full costume changes for a leading character in a theatre production goes to Joe Casey (played by Michael Jibson) in the Madness musical Our House. He had 29 quick changes.
  17. The actor Patrick Stewart lost his hair at age 18.
  18. In England, during the reign of Oliver Cromwell (1642-1660), theatre was outlawed, but music was not, so many playwrights started writing libretto for opera.
  19. Actor, Brian Blessed is the oldest man to have trekked to the North Pole, he has survived a plane crash and has even had a boxing match with the Dalai Lama!
  20. The complete works of Shakespeare uses a vocabulary of 17,677 words. About 1,700 of these are words believed to have been invented by Shakespeare.
  21. American playwright Tennessee Williams is buried in St Louis, Missouri, despite his own wishes to be buried at sea.
  22. The residents of Oberammergau, Germany, put on an epic passion play every 10 years, which they have been doing since the town survived a plague outbreak in 1634.
  23. The Peacock Theatre stands on the site of a 17th century tennis court.
  24. When Rogers & Hammerstein’s “Carousel” opened previews in 1945 the ballet sequence was over an hour long and the show came down at 1:30 am!
  25. In The Phantom Of The Opera it takes the phantom 2 hours to apply makeup before the show.
  26. The Lyceum and New Amsterdam, both built 1903, are the oldest theatres on Broadway.
  27. Elizabethan theatre was so popular that in 1591 a law forced London theatres to close on Thursdays to give other entertainments, like the declining bear baiting industry, a chance.
  28. The Broadway production of Priscilla Queen of the Desert was produced by Bette Midler.
  29. In the original stage production of Singin’ In The Rain, Tommy Steele had to mime the title song as the rain was too noisy and would have damaged the microphone.
  30. Rick Lyon, the actor who originally played Trekkie Monster and Nicky in Avenue Q, also designed all of the puppets for the show.
  31. Architect of Sydney Opera House, Jørn Utzon, never visited the finished venue owing to a disagreement with the managers.
  32. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the president responsible for the theatre being built in the White House.
  33. Elizabethan playwright, Christopher Marlowe, was killed in argument over who would pay a bill.
  34. Elizabethan audiences were known to bang their chairs on the ground to show appreciation.
  35. There has been a theatre on the site of Theatre Royal Drury Lane since 1663. The current building is the 4th theatre, after 2 fires and 1 demolition.
  36. In 1971, The Who performed a series of free gigs at the Young Vic theatre to try out material for their album, Who's Next.
  37. The abstract statue outside the Shaw Theatre depicts Saint Joan. This is a reference to Shaw’s play of the same name.


  1. Noel Gay, composer of Me and My Girl, was an organist at Wakefield Cathedral before he was famous.
  2. "Father of the railways" George Stephenson is thought to haunt Chesterfield's Pomegranate Theatre.
  3. An early blueprint for the Barbican Centre had a cinema with the screen on the ceiling and the front row lying on their backs.
  4. Noël Coward was the first person to use the word 'bloody' on the BBC in his song Let's Not Be Beastly To The Germans. The song was later banned. Many people didn’t understand the irony.
  5. On 4th of May 2013, Helen Mirren, while dressed as the queen, left the Gielgud Theatre to shout at drummers outside disturbing the play. The play was The Audience by Peter Morgan.
  6. The most 5 star reviews ever awarded to a musical in the West End was for Merrily We Roll Along at the Harold Pinter Theatre in 2013.
  7. The area of South Kensington in which the Royal Albert Hall stands was once known as Albertopolis.
  8. Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw co-founded the London School of Economics.
  9. The Young Vic theatre was only intended to last for 5 years when it was built over 40 years ago.
  10. The first known actor was Thespis of Attica from the 6th Century BC.
  11. Richmond Theatre was used to replicate Ford's Theatre, Washington DC in the film National Treasure: Book of Secrets.
  12. The musical Annie by Charles Strause was based on a comic strip. Strause also wrote a musical based on the Superman comic strips.
  13. Playwright Alan Bennett used to teach medieval history at Oxford University.
  14. Cole Porter's Kiss Me Kate won the very first Tony Award for Best Musical in 1949.
  15. The “unlimited” section from Wicked’s Defying Gravity incorporates the first 7 notes from Somewhere Over The Rainbow.
  16. Former theatre manager Squire Bancroft is thought to haunt Haymarket Theatre Royal but only appears to watches comedies.
  17. Anna Pavlova was highly superstitious and would not look at the statue of herself atop the Victoria Palace Theatre.
  18. London's Garrick Theatre was very difficult to build, as it had an underground river running beneath it.
  19. Southport Theatre was designed by an architect who usually designed supermarkets and forgot to include dressing rooms.
  20. Miss Saigon was indirectly based on the life of a Scotsman who founded the Mitsubishi corporation. Miss Saigon was based on Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, which was based on David Belasco's Madame Butterfly, which was based on Pierre Loti’s novel Madame Chrysanthème. This was in part inspired by the life of Thomas Blake Glover, the Scot who founded the Japanese Navy and the Mitsubishi Co. as well as having a well publicised affair with a geisha girl.
  21. The Arts Theatre is the smallest commercial receiving house in the West End.
  22. The 1st talking picture ever shown in Britain was The Singing Fool at the Piccadilly Theatre in 1928.
  23. The Hammersmith Apollo still has the original 1200 pipe Compton’s organ from when it was used as a cinema.

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