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The Duchess Theatre is a West End theatremarker in the City of Westminstermarker, London, located in Catherine Street, near Aldwychmarker.

The theatre opened on 25 November, 1929 and is one of the smallest 'proscenium arched' West End theatres. It has 479 seats on two levels.


The Duchess theatre was designed by Ewen Barr, and constructed by F. G. Minter Ltd, for Arthur Gibbons. The theatre is built with the stalls below street level, to overcome the scale of the site, and the rights of neighbours to Ancient lights. The theatre opened on 25 November 1929 with a play called Tunnel Trench by Hubert Griffith. The interior decoration scheme was introduced in 1934 under the supervision of Mary Wyndham Lewis, wife of J. B. Priestley.

Notable productions

  • Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit, which transferred from the Piccadilly Theatre to the St. James's Theatre before moving to the Duchess Theatre where it completed a record run of 1,997 performances in 1942.
  • Bill Naughton's play Alfie played at the Duchess in 1962. Famously, Lewis Gilbert saw the play and immediately contacted the writer with a view to a screen transfer.
  • Tom Eyen's The Dirtiest Show in Town, which ran for just under 800 performances in the 1970s
  • In December 1974 Oh Calcutta, transferred to the Duchess Theatre from the Royalty Theatremarker. Oh! Calcutta! remained at the Duchess until 1980.
  • The Players' Theatremarker Company presented their Late Joys Victorian Music hall programme between 1987 and 1990
  • Marc Camoletti's Don't Dress For Dinner which transferred to the Duchess from the Apollo Theatremarker in October 1992 and stayed until 1 March, 1997.
  • The Royal Shakespeare Company's The Herbal Bed by Peter Whelan which ran for six months from April to October 1997.

Production History


  • Guide to British Theatres 1750-1950, John Earl and Michael Sell pp. 108 (Theatres Trust, 2000) ISBN 0-7136-5688-3

External links

See also

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