Imperial Theatre

Definition

Theater

  • (1) A former theater in Tothill Street, Westminster, whichopened in 1876 as the Royal Aquarium Theatre (part of the Royal AquariumSummer and Winter Garden complex). In 1878 Samuel Phelps made hisfarewell appearance there as Cardinal Wolsey in Henry VIII.That same year Marie Litton took over its management, changing thename to the Imperial in 1879.

    In 1901 Lillie Langtry leased the theater, redecoratedit, and installed electricity; the venue reopened with A RoyalNecklace, in which Langtry played the dual roles of Marie Antoinetteand Mlle Olivia. In 1903 Ellen Terry (see Terry family)took over the theater but achieved little success with either Ibsen'sThe Vikings at Helgeland, in which she played the untypicalrole of a terrifying warrior mother, or Much Ado About Nothing,in which she played Beatrice. The final offering at the Imperial wasDix and Sutherland's Boy O'Carrol in 1906. The interior wasthen used for the Imperial Palace cinema in Canning Town, which wasdestroyed by fire in 1931.

    (2) A large theater on West 45th Street, between Broadway and EighthAvenue, New York, which opened in 1923. With its capacity of 1452 seats, ithas been home to a string of highly successful musicals, including AnnieGet Your Gun (1946), which ran for 1147 performances, Call Me Madam(1950), Oliver! (1963), Fiddler on the Roof (1964), They'rePlaying Our Song (1979), Les Misérables (1990), which ranfor over 12 years, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (2005). Billy Elliotthe Musical opened in late 2008.

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