Duchess Theatre London

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Duchess Theatre London
3-5 Catherine Street,
WC2B 5LA London

Venue information

The Duchess is one of the youngest and smallest West End theatres. The building was originally promoted by Arthur Gibbons and designed by architect Ewen Barr to overcome objections about ancient lights which had prevented previous building on the small site. The interior decoration as it is today was introduced in 1934 under the supervision of Mary Wyndham Lewis, wife of J B Priestley.

1929 Opened on 25 November with Tunnel Trench, a play featuring Emlyn Williams in the cast.

1930 The Duchess hosted the shortest run in West End history when The Intimate Revue closed without completing its first performance.

1932 Frank Vosper starred as King Henry VII in The Rose Without a Thorn and Jessica Tandy appeared in Children in Uniform. 1933 J B Priestley's Laburnum Grove.

1934 J B Priestley joined the management of the theatre, producing his own play Eden End with Ralph Richardson.

1935 Cornelius, again by Priestley and starring Richardson and the psychological thriller Night Must Fall with Emlyn Williams as both author and star.

1936 Murder in the Cathedral by T S Eliot.

1937 Time and the Conways, again by Priestley.

1938 Emlyn Williams's The Corn is Green, starring the author and Sybil Thorndike, was playing at the time of compulsory closure due to the outbreak of war.

1939 The Playboy of the Western World.

1942 Skylark with John Clements and Constance Cummings. Noël Coward's Blithe Spirit, with Margaret Rutherford, transferred from the Piccadilly Theatre to complete a run of 1,997 performances.

1947 Priestley's The Linden Tree with Lewis Casson and Sybil Thorndike played 400 performances.

1948 Angela Baddeley in a revival of Eden End.

1949 Lewis Casson and Sybil Thorndike were re-united in The Foolish Gentlewoman.

1950 The Holly and the Ivy featured Bryan Forbes.

1951 Thora Hird and Dandy Nichols in Happy Family.

1952 Kenneth More and Peggy Ashcroft in Terence Rattigan's The Deep Blue Sea.

1955 Mr. Kettle and Mrs. Moon.

1958 The Unexpected Guest.

1960 Harold Pinter's first West End success The Caretaker with Donald Pleasence and Alan Bates.

1961 Impresario Peter Saunders acquired the lease, coinciding with a transfer of Good Night Mrs. Puffin.

1962 Rule of Three by Agatha Christie.

1963 Bill Naughton's Alfie and the return of Sybil Thorndike in William Douglas Home's The Reluctant Peer.

1965 The long-running Boeing Boeing transferred from the Apollo.

1967 Wait Until Dark.

1969 The musical Dames at Sea and The Old Ladies starring Joyce Carey, Joan Miller and Flora Robson.

1970 Diana Dors in Three Months Gone. 1971 The Dirtiest Show in Town.

1973 Rattigan's In Praise of Love.

1974 Oh Calcutta! transferred from the Royalty and remained in residence until 1980 with a total of 3,918 performances.

1980 Maria Aitken and Michael Jayston in a revival of Coward's Private Lives.

1984 Snoopy - The Musical with Teddy Kempner and Susie Blake.

1985 Dorothy Tutin and Colin Blakeley in a trio of Pinter plays called collectively Other Places.

1986 The freehold of the theatre was acquired by Stoll Moss Theatres Ltd, presenting George Cole in A Month of Sundays followed by a transfer from the Garrick of the long-running comedy No Sex Please We're British.

1987 The Players Theatre took up residence for two and a half years while their new theatre in Villiers Street was under construction.

1990 Ray Cooney's long-running farce Run for Your Wife transferred to complete its nine-year West End run.

1991 An Evening With Gary Lineker by Chris England and Arthur Smith.

1992 Don't Dress for Dinner by Marc Camoletti transferred from the Apollo and kept audiences happy for a further four and a half years.

1997 Maureen Lipman's one-woman show Live and Kidding was followed by the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Peter Whelan's The Herbal Bed and the comedy who-dunnit Scissor Happy.

1998 Michael Williams starred as John Aubrey in the one-man play Brief Lives, Eileen Atkins and Michael Gambon played for ten weeks in the RSC's The Unexpected Man and Michael Codron and Lee Dean transferred their production of Alan Ayckbourn's Things We Do for Love from the Gielgud.

1999 The National Theatre's production of Copenhagen by Michael Frayn opened with its original cast of Sara Kestelman, David Burke and Matthew Marsh.

2000 In January the Duchess became a Really Useful Theatre when Lord Lloyd-Webber's Really Useful Group and Bridgepoint Capital purchased Stoll Moss Theatres Ltd.

2001 The auditorium was transformed to recreate the Cottesloe in the round layout for blue/orange with the original National Theatre cast, followed by the Irish comedy Alone it Stands.

2002 Life After George with Stephen Dillane, The Glee Club and David Hare returned to the West End with Via Dolorosa prior to the opening of Alan Ayckbourn's Damsels in Distress.

2003 The year started with Gyles Brandreth's Zipp!, Through the Leaves and Harold Pinter's Betrayal.

2004 Hershey Felder as George Gershwin Alone, Coyote on a Fence and Novel Theatre Company's adaptation of Little Women.

2005 David Suchet in Man and Boy by Terence Rattigan, The Birthday Party revived with Eileen Atkins and Henry Goodman.

2006 Maureen Lipman in Glorious by Peter Quilter.

2007 Underneath the Lintel, The Hound of the Baskervilles and Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story which ran from August 2007 to February 2009

2009 Plague over England, Taking Sides, Collaboration, Endgame and Morecambe

2010 Ibsens Ghosts, The Secret of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Michael Gambon in Krapp's Last Tape and Love Story.

2011 Ecstasy written and directed by Mike Leigh.

In 2005 veteran producers Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer purchased the Duchess Theatre, along with the Apollo, Lyric and Garrick Theatres creating Nimax Theatres on 26 September 2005. The Vaudeville Theatre, solely owned by Max Weitzenhoffer, completes the Nimax portfolio. Mark Fox with thanks to George Hoare. Copyright Really Useful Theatres. Space does not allow for inclusion of all productions at this theatre.

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Duchess Theatre London

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Address: Duchess Theatre
3-5 Catherine Street, WC2B 5LA London
Public transport
Public Transportation

Covent Garden Tube (Piccadilly Line)

By road
If you’re driving into the West End to see a show, take advantage of Q-Park's Theatreland Parking Scheme saving 50% off off-street car parking charges for up to 24 hours. To qualify, simply present your Q-Park car park ticket for validation at our box office and the car park machine will automatically charge you half price. For details of locations and prices please visit Q-Park's website.


Access description: One shallow step up from Catherine Street on a slight slope – lower to the right. facing main entrance. 10 steps up to the Dress Circle (3 steep steps between each row). 20 steps down to the Stalls. Staircases have handrails on both sides, and some steps are highlighted. Auditorium open 30 mins prior to performance.

Sound Amplification: Sennheiser system with 6 headsets. Avoid the first 3 rows in the Stalls and the boxes as the signal is not very strong there.

Guide Dogs: Guide dogs are allowed into the auditorium if you are seated in an aisle seat or a box. Staff will also dog-sit in manager’s office for a maximum of 2 guide dogs per performance.

Disabled Access: Steps to all parts of the auditorium. Wheelchair users who need to remain in their chairs can use AAT Major stair-climber which lowers chairs to the stalls level, where there are spaces at N1 and N29. Please note, the stair-climber is not stored in site so advance notification is essential. Alternatively, if you are able to transfer from your chair, theatre staff will be able to assist you to any aisle seat in the Dress Circle, which is up 12 steps. Your chair will be stored in a cloakroom by the Stalls. Staff are happy to help. F1 and F22 in the Stalls have the most leg room. Staff will also try to find suitable seating on the night.

Toilets: Women’s and men’s by Stalls, plus men’s 8 steps up and women’s 17 steps up from the Dress Circle.

Disabled Toilets: One adapted toilet at Stalls. Door opens inwards