The Gielgud theatre was designed by the renowned theatre architect W. G. R. Sprague, who was also the mastermind behind the Aldwych, Ambassadors and Queen’s theatres. The Gielgud seats 888 people over three levels: the stalls, the royal circle and the upper circle.
Designed is the style of Louis XVI, it's the twin of the Queen’s theatre just down the road. Originally named the Hicks after the famous actor-cum-manager Seymour Hicks who commissioned the theatre to be built, it became the Globe theatre in in 1909 and remained thus until 1994 when it was changed to honour of legendary actor and avoid confusion with the newly constructed Shakespeare’s Globe on the South Bank of the Thames.
The venue underwent massive refurbishment in 1987, when the beautiful Regency staircase and Oval Gallery were restored to their former glory. In 2006 Sir Cameron Mackintosh refurbished it and the Queen’s, including alterations to both foyers.
Hicks himself presented the first productions in the theatre, namely The Beauty of Bath and My Darling. In 1909, during a production of The Dashing Little Duke, Hicks famously took over his actress wife’s role when she fell ill!
Some notable productions from the theatre’s past include There’s A Girl in my Soup by Terence Frisby, which enjoyed a long run of 1064 performances. This run wasn't beaten until Andrew Lloyd Webber's comedy, Daisy Pulls it Off, opened in April 1983 and lasted a whopping 1180 performances. Then, in 1987, Lettice and Lovage by Peter Shaffer opened with Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in award-winning roles. The production went on to run for just over two years.
1992 saw Peter Hall’s revival of Oscar Wilde’s razor-sharp social comedy An Ideal Husband take to the stage, a production which ran for seven months then transferred to the Theatre Royal Haymarket before moving over the water to Broadway.
Other notable productions include several plays by Alan Ayckbourn, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Equus, Avenue Q, Knee High theatre company’s inventive production of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Hampstead Theatre’s Chariots of Fire, The Audience, starring Helen Mirren as the Queen, and a revival of Noel Coward’s Private Lives.
Today the Gielgud theatre is owned and managed by Delfont Mackintosh Theatres.