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!
This is the production you saw that opened on Broadway later with Frank Langella.
Ouch! A show couldn't do better than this did on Broadway but in London it really hit the skids fast!
Hats off to it!
...followed by a very short honeymoon!
Ran for just over a year but her web got a bit tangled in London before enjoying greater success on Broadway.
A shorter run than the man himself! One of the most sumptuous productions i ever seen in the West End or on Broadway!
A fondly remember hit from the 1960s
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!
One of the last big star name pantomimes to be seen in London.
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!
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.
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