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The first theatre on this site was built in 1806, after young passionate actress Jane Scott pestered her father John Scott to invest in one for her. In the early years, Scott starred in and wrote almost all of the productions. Being a proud father, Scott named it the ‘Sans Pareil’ theatre (‘Without Compare’), but one mid-19th century writer described it as the “most inconvenient theatre that ever was entered…to every sense of bodily comfort”. After 52 years, the theatre was revamped for a bigger capacity of 1,500 people.
This second incarnation lasted 50 years before another makeover in 1901, remaining until 1930 when the theatre was fixed up into the Art Deco design we see today. Described as having “a complete absence of curves”, the Adelphi hosted a number of long-running hits such as Me and My Girl, Charlie Girl, A Little Night Music. It was threatened with closure in 1968 from a proposed Covent Garden extension, but was luckily untouched after a survival campaign.
The Adelphi has since staged several of Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals including Sunset Boulevard and Evita.
The ghost of actor William Terris is believed to haunt the Adelphi. Murdered by a jealous rival in 1897, his last words are said to be“I’ll be back”.
The Adelphi has been called six different names: Sans Pareil, Theatre Royal New Adelphi, Royal Adelphi, Theatre Royal Adelphi and the Century Theatre.
‘Adelphi’ is the Greek word for ‘brothers’.