Theatre Address & Map31 Coventry Street, London, W1D 6AS
Nearest tube station: Piccadilly Circus
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- Air conditioned
- Disabled toilets
- Infrared hearing loop
- Wheelchair accessible
Seating DescriptionThe theatre seats 1618, and seating is split into stalls, dress circle and grand circle. The front row of both the dress and grand circle may have restricted viewing due to a hand rail. Legroom in the dress circle is generally restricted. There are ‘loges’ and slip seats at dress circle level.
The loges are situated on projections from the front of the dress circle, five sets of short, enclosed rows. View from these is side-on, with obstructing safety bars for many. In the grand circle, the side blocks offer somewhat limited viewing angles.
Bar FacilitiesThere are two licensed bars, one at stalls and one at dress circle level. The tariff is the same as all Delfont Makintosh theatres, which is better value than other West End venues. Soft drinks are from £1.50 and beer and wine is from £4.50.
Theatre HistoryThe Prince of Wales Theatre was commissioned by Edgar Bruce in 1883, originally called The Prince’s Theatre. It was deigned by C. J. Phipps, who had previously designed a number of West End theatres. The facade and decor were flowery, the foyer built in Moorish design, complete with fountain and grotto, and ornamental rocks and ferns. The orange and terracotta colour scheme for the seating has been restored to the upholstery today. In its early days, the theatre helped to popularise the art of mime in respectful theatre, which had previously been confined to circuses and pantomime.
In the 1930s and early ‘40s, the Prince of Wales Theatre became known for its gasp-making, blush-making Folies. According to the Daily Mail, it specialised in the show of the ‘tired business man’. These were incredibly popular. At their height, they ran continuously from 2pm to midnight, showing four times a day. In 1948, Mae West was a hit with Diamond Lil, and in the ‘50s, the Prince of Wales Theatre played variety performances with stars such as Bob Hope, Gracie Fields and Benny Hill.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Aspects of Love opened in 1989, playing to over 1 million people. Other musicals include West Side Story, Rent, and the British premiere of The Fully Monty. In 2003, Delfont Makintosh Group gave the theatre a £7.5 million refurbishment, reopening with a Gala performance of Mamma Mia!, attended by the Prince of Wales.