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The ghost of actor William Terris is believed to haunt the Adelphi; he was murdered by a jealous rival in 1897, and his last words were eerily “I’ll be back”. Eat your heart out, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The theatre is owned by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group, and he staged his Phantom of the Opera sequel Love Never Dies there, as well as the Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat revival.
The Adelphi has been called six different names in its 200 year plus history: Sans Pareil, Theatre Royal New Adelphi, Royal Adelphi, Theatre Royal Adelphi, Century Theatre and, of course, the Adelphi.
‘Adelphi’ is the Greek word for ‘brothers’.
The first theatre on this site in 1806 was thanks to young passionate actress Jane Scott who pestered her father John Scott to invest in one for her. She took advantage and in its early years starred in and wrote almost all of the productions. Being a proud father, Scott named it the ‘Sans Pareil’ theatre (‘Without Compare’), although ironically it wasn’t very comfortable. One mid-19thcentury writer described it as the “most inconvenient theatre that ever was entered…to every sense of bodily comfort”. Nonetheless, it filled its seats and notably staged many Charles Dickens adaptations including The Pickwick Papers and A Christmas Carol. After 52 years of wear and tear, it was revamped for a bigger capacity of 1,500 people.
This second incarnation lasted 50 years before another makeover in 1901, remaining only until 1930 when the theatre was fixed up yet again into the Art Deco design we see today (that’s a total of four different buildings in 125 years!). Described as having “a complete absence of curves”, the Adelphi hosted a number of long-running hits such as Charlie Girl (2,202 performances), Sondheim’s A Little Night Music (406 performances) and Me and My Girl (3,303 performances). It was threatened with closure in 1968 from a proposed Covent Garden extension, but was luckily untouched after a survival campaign.
Lovingly restored and bought by Andrew Lloyd Webber in 1993, the Adelphi has since staged several of his musicals including Sunset Boulevard, Joseph, Evita and Love Never Dies. It was also the location where the Cats video was filmed, and hosted Chicago for the first eight years of its run.