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When the Gielgud Theatre opened, its manager Seymour Hicks (who also happened to be an actor and playwright) must have wanted to promote his image and work, as he named the theatre after himself and opened the venue with one of his own plays. He clearly craved the limelight, because when his wife was taken ill during a run of another of his plays The Dashing Little Duke where she played the male lead, he couldn’t wait to step in. Probably one of the few documented cases of a man playing a woman playing a man.
The Hicks name didn’t stick though, as the Gielgud Theatre spent much of its life known as the Globe Theatre from 1909 (predating the Shakespearean reconstruction on the South Bank) under the watchful eye of Charles Frohman, American theatre producer extraordinaire. Under this name, it had a handful of long-running hits, including the 1930s’ Call It a Day (a rare success in the Depression era), the 1966 comedy There’s a Girl in My Soup that broke records at the time and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1983 Daisy Pulls It Off, which still holds the record for the Gielgud Theatre’s longest run.
In the last 20 odd years, change has driven the Gielgud Theatre, being refurbished in the ‘80s and again in the early ‘00s, restoring the foyer and dress circle boxes. And after almost 90 years known as the Globe Theatre, it honored British actor John Gielgud by changing its name in 1994 to the Gielgud Theatre to not face any confusion with the planned Shakespeare’s Globe.