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Savoy Theatre

Charles John Phipps

history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)10.10.1881 | opening
Opened with Patience, transferred from the Opera Comique.
(detail)1929 | alteration
The theatre was closed for alterations, reopening on 21 Oct. 1929 with a revival of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Gondoliers.



The great theatrical event of 1881 was the opening of the Savoy Theatre with Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience. D'Oyly Carte knew exactly what he wanted from Phipps, the designer. For the first time anywhere in the world, a public building was lit entirely with 'the electric light', supplied by Messrs Siemens Brothers and made possible by 'the incandescent lamps of Mr J. W. Swan of Newcastle-on-Tyne', which were 'experimentally applied to the interior of this theatre'; gas was still there in case of emergency. This experiment was to revolutionize, not only theatre lighting, but also women's jewellery; diamonds sparkled so much more efficiently that coloured stones went out of fashion. Make-up had to be softened too, for some grandes dames appeared under electric light to be painted up like Jezebels.


In: Glasstone, Victor: Victorian and Edwardian Theatres: An Architectural and Social Survey. Harvard 1975 p. 70



Author: Victor Glasstone

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