Duchess Theatre

Definition

Theater

  • A theater on Catherine Street, London, that opened in 1929under the joint management of Jack de Leon and his sister, Delia.The exterior of the building, designed by Ewan Barr, has been describedas 'Modern Tudor Gothic'.

    The Duchess has an unfortunate place in theatrical history,having staged London's shortest ever running show, The IntimateRevue (1930), which closed before the end of the first performance.The individual sketches required so much scenery that it took about20 minutes to change sets. A critic for The Times noted: "Eachtime the curtains parted, squads of scene-shifters might be seen inaction or in horrid precipitate flight." The Duchess also drewthe world's shortest review, the show A Good Time receivingthe one-word critique: "No."

    In the 1930s J. B. Priestley became associated withthe theater, which presented a number of his plays including EdenEnd (1934) and Time and the Conways (1937). Priestley'swife, Mary Wyndham Lewis, redesigned the interior of the theater in1934. Emlyn Williams's Night Must Fall, in which healso starred, opened in 1935 and ran for over a year. Later successesincluded works by Noël Coward, Terence Rattigan, and Agatha Christie.Kenneth Tynan's nude revue Oh, Calcutta! transferred from the RoyaltyTheatre in 1974 and ran until 1980. Another long run was enjoyed by MarcCamoletti's comedy Don't Dress for Dinner (1992 - 97). In 2003the Duchess staged Gyles Brandreth's show Zipp!, which presentedhighlights of 100 musicals in 90 minutes (including all of Lloyd Webber in60 seconds). A revival of Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story ranfrom 2007 until 2009. The theater now forms part of the Nimax Group of West End theaters.

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