Designed by W.G.R Sprague, the Aldwych Theatre opened in 1905 at the same time as its twin, the Strand Theatre. They were built with identical facades, same seating capacity of over 1000 and opened within 7months of each other. It is said that it was built for actor-manager-dramatist Seymour Hicks in association with the famous American impresario Charles Frohman.
The interior decoration is a mixture of Georgian and French Baroque. A dual staircase ascends past three huge mirrors and meets in the handsome plush Circle Bar under chandeliers from where one can look down into the vestibule from a circular ramp.
Used as a Club for Australian servicemen during the Great War, the Aldwych Theatre became the home of English farce and one of the most popular places of entertainment in London until 1933.
There followed a lean period, despite the introduction of the Privilege ticket, equivalent to our half price ticket today - two seats for the price of one. This was only in 1942, that anti-Nazi play Watch On The Rhine brought audiences back to the Aldwych Theatre!
In 1960, the Aldwych Theatre was refurbished and repainted following the acquisition by the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre Company. Artistic Director, Peter Hall, took the curtain down and the forestage was brought forward to the line of the stage boxes. Renamed the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1961, their tenancy lasted until 1982 setting new standards for Shakespeare productions and other classical modern plays, building up a brilliant ensemble company of actors in the hands of inspired directors.
Ever since the Aldwych Theatre has been hosting famous productions!