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Originally named the Royal Coburg Theatre, productions were staged to provide entertainment for the noble members in society.
After four name changes and regular theatre closures, the venue was successful from 1884 with popular seasons of Shakespeare plays. 1963 saw the National Theatre company takeover the Old Vic and its performers until 1976, but it established world-class productions being staged in the heart of London.
With no permanent company in house, rumours of replacing the Old Vic were rife. But, the Old Vic production company was established led by Kevin Spacey as artistic director, who starred in Richard II, The Philadelphia Story and Speed-the-Plow.
Some of the building material for the theatre came from the Savoy Palace, which was demolished when the Waterloo Bridge was being built.
Shakespeare’s complete first folio (a comprehensive collection of 36 of his comedies, histories and tragedies) has been performed twice fully in Old Vic history.