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Elaine Paige played the leading lady in three musicals one after the other here – in Evita, Chess and Anything Goes, playing Eva Peron, Florence and Reno Sweeney respectively.
The composer Mozart lived at 28 Frith Street for two years in the 18th century – currently the location of Prince Edward’s stage door.
The Prince Edward was the first theatre of six in total to open in the year 1930 – an especially busy year for theatre.
It’s a shame that the sizable 1,600-seat Prince Edward Theatre, with one of the West End’s biggest stages, opened in 1930 with a series of such terribly performing musicals. Things got so bad for the theatre that it was forced to turn into a casino-cabaret-restaurant by 1936. The good news was that the newly launched ‘London Casino’ was exceptionally profitable – that is, until the outbreak of war in 1939.
The venue was too good to stay closed though, and instead was used by the Armed Forces to broadcast entertainment abroad to keep troops’ morale up. Having kept it warm, the Forces vacated by 1946 and the London Casino came to life once again, this time benefiting from the staging of variety shows. But by 1954, the performance element of this glorious theatre had completely disappeared, installing a giant screen and rebranding itself as ‘The Casino Cinerama Theatre’.
It took another 20 years for the venue’s theatricality to be restored. Realising its potential for huge musical productions, it was renovated by Bernard Delfont and given back its original name – the Prince Edward Theatre – and ended up putting on its most successful musical. Evita opened in 1978 and ran for 8 years, kicking off an era of hits. Of course, there have been a couple of doozies along the way (The Hunting of the Snark and Children of Eden didn’t exactly have critics up on their feet), but with a bill of shows that includes Mamma Mia!, Mary Poppins, Anything Goes, Chess and the current production Jersey Boys, you can imagine that the creators of the Prince Edward Theatre would be proud.