'The Shaftesbury Theatre -The Shows -The Hits And The Misses

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'The Shaftesbury Theatre -The Shows -The Hits And The Misses

Someone on another thread mentioned that 'Hairspray' must be the theatres biggest success so far. Well, after all the amazing public and critical, not to mention 27 major awards it looks like the production could very well be heading to be a huge long running hit there- I'm guessing 3 or 4 years at least.
Despite its recent very bad run of luck, the Shaftesbury has also had its share of major hits.
Its most famous of course is the original London run of 'Hair'! The show opened in March 1968 and ran for over 5 years until it was forced to close prematurely on July 31st 1973. A few hours after the show played its 1997 performance the ceiling collapsed into the stalls. The show reopened a number of months later at the Queens Theatre on Shaftesbury Ave.
The theatre remained dark for 3 or 4 years with a very major threat of demolition over it for years to come.
Other long runners include-
'How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying' Mar 1963- June 1964
'They're Playing Our Song' Oct 1980- May 1982
'Follies' July 1987 -Oct 1989
'Rent' May 1998 -Oct 1999
In recent years its reputation has been for being home to some of the West Ends most spectacular flops, naming a few- 'Lutrec', 'Out Of The Blue', 'The Far Pavillions' 'Daddy Cool' -the list goes on and on and on.
Even its big name shows like 'Kiss Of The Spider Woman' and 'The Whos Tommy' only managed to get a 12 or 13 month run.
In the distant past it didn't far too well either with some notable failures in the 1960s ending with everyones favourite, Lionel Barts 'Twang!'
In the 40s and 50s Broadway sent to London some of its biggest hits of the time and a few played the Shaftesbury- then called The Princes Theatre (renamed The Shaftesbury in 1952). Legendary shows like 'Pal Joey', 'Wonderful Town', 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes' all died a death there with the longest run being just over six months of 'Pal Joey'!
So there you go, one of Londons most beautiful and traditional theatres has always had a very checkered history. Lets hope 'Hairspray has at last changed its fortunes for a good many years to come
I will add more shows to the list as I dig them out -if anyone is interested!


A young actress with Noel coward after a dreadful opening night performance said to him 'Well, i knew my lines backwards this morning!'' Noels fast reply was ''Yes dear, and thats exactly how you said them tonight'!'
Updated On: 8/17/08 at 11:13 AM
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Was Rent actually deemed a flop? Didn't look like a bad run.

Always happy to hear how successful Hairspray is and how much it will continue to do so.
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"Was Rent actually deemed a flop? Didn't look like a bad run."

Word is that despite the long run it never recouped, so yes, it would have been a flop in London.

Which, given how cheap it is to operate, is pretty damn sad.
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"Despite its recent very bad run of luck, the Shaftesbury has also had its share of major hits.
Its most famous of course is the original London run of 'Hair'! The show opened in March 1968 and ran for over 5 years until it was forced to close prematurely on July 31st 1973. A few hours after the show played its 1997 performance the ceiling collapsed into the stalls. The show reopened a number of months later at the Queens Theatre on Shaftesbury Ave."


Funny you should mention this today. Patricia Hodge has just been talking about that same incident on Michael Ball's radio 2 show this morning. Apparently she was in the cast of 'Hair'
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I don't know if the term hit means the same thing in London as it does on Broadway. But, Rent not only didn't recoup its loses in London it also wasn't selling well.

I think that Hairspray is the first show in years at the Shaftsbury to actually come close to ( I don't know if it has) recouping its losses and to have a decent length run.
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I remember attending the opening night of the 1978 production of DRACULA there starring Terence Stamp. It was a flop and only lasted about six weeks.
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re: 'The Shftesbury Theatre -The Shows -The Hits And The Misses

This is the production you saw that opened on Broadway later with Frank Langella.

A young actress with Noel coward after a dreadful opening night performance said to him 'Well, i knew my lines backwards this morning!'' Noels fast reply was ''Yes dear, and thats exactly how you said them tonight'!'
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re: 'The Shftesbury Theatre -The Shows -The Hits And The Misses

'Hair' 1968

A young actress with Noel coward after a dreadful opening night performance said to him 'Well, i knew my lines backwards this morning!'' Noels fast reply was ''Yes dear, and thats exactly how you said them tonight'!'
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re: 'The Shftesbury Theatre -The Shows -The Hits And The Misses

Ouch!
A show couldn't do better than this did on Broadway but in London it really hit the skids fast!

A young actress with Noel coward after a dreadful opening night performance said to him 'Well, i knew my lines backwards this morning!'' Noels fast reply was ''Yes dear, and thats exactly how you said them tonight'!'
Updated On: 8/17/08 at 08:10 PM
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re: 'The Shftesbury Theatre -The Shows -The Hits And The Misses

Hats off to it!

A young actress with Noel coward after a dreadful opening night performance said to him 'Well, i knew my lines backwards this morning!'' Noels fast reply was ''Yes dear, and thats exactly how you said them tonight'!'
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re: 'The Shftesbury Theatre -The Shows -The Hits And The Misses

...followed by a very short honeymoon!

A young actress with Noel coward after a dreadful opening night performance said to him 'Well, i knew my lines backwards this morning!'' Noels fast reply was ''Yes dear, and thats exactly how you said them tonight'!'
Updated On: 8/17/08 at 08:13 PM
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re: 'The Shftesbury Theatre -The Shows -The Hits And The Misses

Ran for just over a year but her web got a bit tangled in London before enjoying greater success on Broadway.

A young actress with Noel coward after a dreadful opening night performance said to him 'Well, i knew my lines backwards this morning!'' Noels fast reply was ''Yes dear, and thats exactly how you said them tonight'!'
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re: 'The Shftesbury Theatre -The Shows -The Hits And The Misses

A shorter run than the man himself!
One of the most sumptuous productions i ever seen in the West End or on Broadway!

A young actress with Noel coward after a dreadful opening night performance said to him 'Well, i knew my lines backwards this morning!'' Noels fast reply was ''Yes dear, and thats exactly how you said them tonight'!'
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re: 'The Shftesbury Theatre -The Shows -The Hits And The Misses

A fondly remember hit from the 1960s

A young actress with Noel coward after a dreadful opening night performance said to him 'Well, i knew my lines backwards this morning!'' Noels fast reply was ''Yes dear, and thats exactly how you said them tonight'!'
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re: 'The Shftesbury Theatre -The Shows -The Hits And The Misses

When it was announced that London would get this, the latest Broadway smash, it was widely thought that the Shaftesbury would get a long runner at last. WRONG! -even after stunning reviews audiences went to below 50% very soon into its run and the show closed less than a year after all the fanfare!

A young actress with Noel coward after a dreadful opening night performance said to him 'Well, i knew my lines backwards this morning!'' Noels fast reply was ''Yes dear, and thats exactly how you said them tonight'!'
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I was surprised to hear that Tommy didn't do well in London. I would have thought that the music of The Who would have fared better in London where the band is from then on Broadway.
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'Tommy' flopped twice in the West End. In the mid 80s at the Queens Theatre it ran just a few weeks!
A young actress with Noel coward after a dreadful opening night performance said to him 'Well, i knew my lines backwards this morning!'' Noels fast reply was ''Yes dear, and thats exactly how you said them tonight'!'
Updated On: 8/18/08 at 08:43 PM
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re: 'The Shftesbury Theatre -The Shows -The Hits And The Misses

One of the last big star name pantomimes to be seen in London.

A young actress with Noel coward after a dreadful opening night performance said to him 'Well, i knew my lines backwards this morning!'' Noels fast reply was ''Yes dear, and thats exactly how you said them tonight'!'
Updated On: 8/18/08 at 08:46 PM
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re: 'The Shftesbury Theatre -The Shows -The Hits And The Misses

A smash hit on its first West End outing at the Cambridge Theatre and for 3 years on tour but I guess by the time it arrived at the Shaftesbury it had out run out of steam!

A young actress with Noel coward after a dreadful opening night performance said to him 'Well, i knew my lines backwards this morning!'' Noels fast reply was ''Yes dear, and thats exactly how you said them tonight'!'
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I'm surprised MILLIE didn't do well in London. How long did it run?
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It ran about 8 months but really struggled the last few.
A young actress with Noel coward after a dreadful opening night performance said to him 'Well, i knew my lines backwards this morning!'' Noels fast reply was ''Yes dear, and thats exactly how you said them tonight'!'
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re: 'The Shftesbury Theatre -The Shows -The Hits And The Misses

After a closure of over two years following the collapse of the ceiling that closed 'Hair', this touring production of the TV series called at The Shaftesbury for a 3 month season from Oct 1975.

A young actress with Noel coward after a dreadful opening night performance said to him 'Well, i knew my lines backwards this morning!'' Noels fast reply was ''Yes dear, and thats exactly how you said them tonight'!'
Updated On: 8/17/08 at 11:45 PM
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Love these posters. More! More please wickedboy2!
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A friend of mine was in Millie and i remember him telling me that the theatre was playing to around 300-400 people sometimes
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A certain leading lady found it hard to perform anything near 8 shows a week too!
A young actress with Noel coward after a dreadful opening night performance said to him 'Well, i knew my lines backwards this morning!'' Noels fast reply was ''Yes dear, and thats exactly how you said them tonight'!'
Updated On: 8/18/08 at 06:19 AM