Architectural Twin: The Queens Theatre

Former Queens Theatre; renamed the Sondheim in 2019

The Queens opened in 1907, an architectural twin to the one on the other end of the block: Hicks Theatre, renamed Gielgud in 1994. See the comparison:

One could be excused for thinking “twins?” The obvious similarities are the corner entrance and rounded facade. W. G. R. Sprague designed both theatres–more on the twins shortly. The original name selected for the new theatre was Central Theatre.

Mr. Vedrenne, by the way, has at last found a name for his new theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue. It is to be called the Central Theatre. London expected that when the name came at last it would have a little more colour, but there is of course something to be said for a title that presents so few difficulties for pronunciation, the Hicks Theatre being the notorious instance of the other kind.

The Guardian, Sep 6, 1907, p. 4.

The ‘Central’ did not last long, though Vedrenne in discussing the newly named Queens said: “The Queen’s is right in the centre of theatre land, and in as good a position as possible” (The Observer, Oct 6, 1907, p. 5). Mr. J. E. Vedrenne entertained a number of people for a private viewing of the newly constructed Queen’s Theatre on the corner of Shaftesbury and Wardour, “externally exactly like the new theatre at the other corner of the new block” (The Times, Oct 5, 1907, p. 6). Indeed, a 1907 photograph confirms both theatres were twins.

During heavy bombing of London in September 1940, the Queens’ front facade and lobby were destroyed and the theatre remained closed for almost 20 years as the building deteriorated. In 1957 plans for renovation were undertaken and some 250,000 pounds later, the theatre reopened in 1959 with a modern facade. It underwent renovation again in 2019 and reopened in January 2020 as the Sondheim.

This entry was posted in London, Modernism, Theatres and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Architectural Twin: The Queens Theatre

  1. Katie says:

    I’m loving these posts! There’s something a little bit magical about old theatres.

    Liked by 1 person

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