The Royal Avenue Theatre opened on this site in March 1882 with a revival of Offenbach’s Madam Favart. The ‘Royal’ was soon dropped from the name, but comic operas, burlesques and the like remained the staple fare for several years. For much of this time, Arthur Roberts, a popular star of the music halls, led the company at the Avenue.
The theatre was re-built and re-opened as the Playhouse Theatre in January 1907 with a one act play called The Drums of Oudh and a play called Toddles, by Tristan Bernard and Andre Godfernaux.
Since then, the beautiful Playhouse has hosted the likes of WS Gilbert, legendary actress-manager Gladys Cooper, the BBC, The Almeida Theatre Company, The Peter Hall Company, and Janet McTeer. In January 2003, Maidstone Productions became the new independent owners of the Theatre. Maidstone Productions, belonging to London and Broadway producers Ted and Norman Tulchin, has been behind a string of hit productions on both sides of the Atlantic, including Gagarin Way, Eden and Vincent in Brixton in the West End; Yazmina Reza’s The Unexpected Man, as well as Donald Margulies’ Dinner with Friends, which won the Pulitzer Prize.
The Ambassador Theatre Group have maintained stewardship of the Playhouse Theatre since 2003 and have recently acquired 100% ownership. Recent productions include Richard Eyre’s production Vincent in Brixton starring Clare Higgins and Journey’s End directed by David Grindley. The theatre has most recently been home to La Cage Aux Folles, Dreamboats & Petticoats, The Mystery of Charles Dickens – Simon Callow’s one man show.