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In its earliest days, buying a cigar and a pint would get you in the theatre for free.
It was formerly known as the New Players Theatre.
Its original purpose was a music hall, but is now branded as an ‘off-Broadway style’ venue.
Rudyard Kipling, who lived on the street, wrote My One and Only at the original music hall.
It has been known as the Charing Cross Music Hall, the Players’ Theatre and the New Players’ Theatre before adopting its current name in 2005.
Members of the Royal Family that have visited the tiny theatre include Prince Charles, Prince Phillip, Princess Anne and Prince Edward.
The Charing Cross Theatre helped launch the career of Maggie Smith, among others.
The complex on which the Charing Cross Theatre is located is owned by the Sultan of Brunei, who has declared that it must only be used as a theatrical venue and not be changed into anything else.
Despite being a relatively new theatre, the Charing Cross Theatre has quite a complex history – partially on a different site. Run by the Gatti family in the late 19th and early 20th century era, it started life as a public house and a music hall simply called ‘The Arches’, named after the arches of Charing Cross that tower above it.
The space was converted into the Forum Cinema for a little over 30 years before being taken over by a theatre troupe called ‘The Players’ after the Second World War who suitably renamed it ‘The Players’ Theatre’. During their residency, they inspired the BBC series The Good Old Days and staged the musical The Boy Friend for the first time, which went on to be one of the most successful musicals on the West End and Broadway in the 1950s and launched the career of Julie Andrews.
However in the 1980s, the Players’ Theatre was bought by an accounting firm (who use it as part of their office entrance today), and The Players had a replica under a different railway arch built from scratch a little further along the road – which is where the Charing Cross Theatre stands today.
Upon the theatre company’s departure in 2002, the space frequently changed ownership before settling into the hands of the nightclub Heaven, which is located opposite. Fortunately, the Players still rent the space out for some of their shows even though they are no longer the owners.