The Fortune Theatre, once so succinctly described as the ‘most intimate of theatres,’ first opened to the public on Saturday 8 November 1924 and its original charm has not since waned. Located near Covent Garden, it is thought to be the second smallest theatre in the West End with its capacity of 432 spread over three levels. Above the door of the entrance to the theatre stands a famous statue of Terpsichore, one of the Muses of Greek mythology.
Built on the site of the Old Albion Tavern, it was the first London theatre to be built after World War I. During the Second World War, the theatre was used as the venue for ENSA, the concert party corps of the Forces.
The Fortune has seen many celebrated actors and actresses perform on its stage. Amongst the impressive roll call are Dame Judi Dench, Dirk Bogarde, and Maureen Lipman. The venue was also home to the ground-breaking revue from Cambridge, Beyond The Fringe, with the original line-up of Alan Bennett, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, and Jonathan Miller.
The Fortune is most closely associated, of course, with its current production, The Woman In Black, which has become a West End legend. This enigmatic and brilliant play first took up residence at The Fortune in 1989. Interestingly, the show was performed entirely in Japanese for five days in September 2008. This one-off run of performances celebrated the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the United Kingdom and Japan.
The theatre and the show celebrated 5,000 performances in July 2001 with a huge party, which was held in the Stalls Bar and the auditorium – though it’s difficult to say whether any ghosts were in attendance!