Currently home to: Motown: The Musical
The theatre was designed for the brothers Walter and Frederick Melville by Bertie Crewe and opened on 26 December 1911 with a production of The Three Musketeers, as the New Prince’s Theatre, becoming the Prince’s Theatre in 1914. The Prince’s was the last theatre to be built in Shaftesbury Avenue, and is located near New Oxford Street, perhaps explaining the many gaps between performances in its early years. It had considerable success with an 18-week season of Gilbert and Sullivan operas, presented by the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company in 1919. These became a regular attraction at the theatre in the 1920s, interspersed with runs of theatre productions transferred from other venues. The theatre was sold to EMI in 1962, and became the Shaftesbury Theatre the following year. Part of the ceiling fell in on 20 July 1973, forcing the closure of the long-running musical Hair, after 1,998 performances. The theatre almost fell victim to redevelopment, but a campaign by Equity succeeded in having the theatre placed on the ‘Statutory List of Buildings of Special architectural or Historic Interest’.