London Coliseum



  • A large theater in St Martin's Lane, London, now the home ofthe English National Opera. It was opened by Sir Oswald Stoll as avariety house in 1904. The theater's many innovations included London'sfirst revolving stage, a mobile lounge to take royal partiesto their boxes, lifts to carry audiences to the upper levels, andfoyer facilities for typing and sending telegrams. In keeping withits name, the theater was decorated in splendid Roman style with carvedchariots and granite columns. Stoll intended the globe on top of thebuilding to revolve but as this violated the building code he usedflashing lights to create the illusion of movement.

    The management initially found it difficult to fill the Coliseum'svast auditorium, which seats 2358, and the theater closed brieflyin 1906. Success eventually came with plays featuring stars such asEllen Terry and Sarah Bernhardt. In 1930 the theater gave the firststage demonstration of television. After World War II, it was usedfor presenting US musicals, notably Annie Get Your Gun (1947),which ran for 1304 performances, Guys and Dolls (1953), andThe Pajama Game (1955). After some years as a cinema, the theaterbecame (1968) the home of the Sadler's Wells Opera Company, whichbecame the English National Opera in 1974.