Royalty Theatre



  • The name of three London theaters, the first standing from1787 to 1828 in Well Street, the second from 1840 to 1955 in DeanStreet, and the third opening in 1960 in Kingsway.

    John Palmer (see Plausible Jack) opened thefirst unlicensed royalty in 1787 with Shakespeare's As You LikeIt and Garrick's farce Miss in her Teens. Palmer was arrestedand the theater closed, however, after complaints by the patenttheaters. Under subsequent managers, the Royalty turned to burlesqueand pantomime, changing its name in 1813 to the East London Theatre.It burned down in 1826 and reopened two years later as the Royal BrunswickTheatre; only three days after the opening the structure collapsed,killing 15 people.

    The second Royalty was a small venue in Soho built for FannyKelly's acting school: it opened in 1840 with a mixed bill. A horsedrove the original stage machinery, which was so noisy that it hadto be removed. Kelly closed the Royalty in 1849 but it opened a yearlater. After a series of name changes, it became the New Royalty Theatre,with a company that included the young Ellen Terry. Although it specializedin melodrama, in 1875 it staged the premiere of Trial by Jury,the first collaboration between Gilbert and Sullivan.

    The theater then took up the cause of modern drama, presentingthe first English productions of two of Ibsen's plays, Ghosts(1891) and The Wild Duck (1894), as well as Shaw's Widowers'Houses (1892) and You Never Can Tell (1899). Mrs PatrickCampbell starred in a series of revivals, and in 1904 the AbbeyTheatre Players made their first London appearance at the Royalty.Other hits included John Galsworthy's The Pigeon (1912), NoëlCoward's The Vortex (1924), Sean O'Casey's Juno and thePaycock (1925), and J. B. Priestley's I Have Been Here Before(1938), its last major success. The Royalty was bombed during theBlitz and did not reopen.

    The third Royalty was opened in 1960 on the site of the earlierStoll Theatre. The first production was Dürrenmatt's The Visit, starring Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. After a spellas a cinema, the Royalty reopened as a theater with the nude revues Birds of a Feather and Oh, Calcutta!, which later transferred to the Duchess Theatre for a total of 2434 performances. Another hit was the musical Bubbling Brown Sugar in 1977. The Royalty briefly became a television studio in 1981 and was subsequently acquired by the London School of Economics, which uses it as a venue for lectures and conferences. As the Peacock Theatre it also serves as a West End stage for the Sadler's Wells dance theater. see also ghosts.