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Garrick Theatre

Charles John Phipps, Walter Emden

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Important events

(detail)24.4.1889 | opening
The theatre was designed by Walter Emden in association with C. J. Phipps. Opened with The Profligate, a play by A. W. Pinero.



The theatre  remains to this day virtually unchanged. The front elevation is rather deceptive. The auditorium runs parallel with Charing Cross Road and is partially masked by the lower well-articulated wall of rustication, pilasters and blind windows which connects the stage and the entrance colonnade. Internally, Phipps replaced his usual deep, narrow auditorium with a plain U-shape. The proscenium is created by the pilasters that frame the stage boxes.


In:  Glasstone, Victor: Victorian and Edwardian Theatres: An Architectural and Social Survey. Harvard 1975 p. 83


The period press:

The Stage for April 26, 1889 :

"The style of Mr Hare's new theatre is classic. The whole of the Charing Cross Road front is executed in Portland Stone and Bath Stone and has a long frontage of 140 feet. The theatre is entered on the dress circle level, which is reached after passing through the outer vestibule by a large inner vestibule. A striking object in this is a handsome oil painting copy of the celebrated portrait of Garrick. From this, by a staircase on either side, the stalls are entered; and from it, by a stair­case, the foyer level, with its refreshment saloon and smoke room, is approached. The saloon on the foyer opens on to a broad balcony facing on to Charing Cross Road, the balcony being covered with an arcade. The floor of the vestibule is laid with mosaic and that of the entrance hall and saloons in marquetry, and they are surrounded by dados of polished walnut in panels, the upper part of the walls being divided by marble pilasters, the panels thus formed being filled with mirrors and decorations in relief. The ceilings are of a highly orna­mental character, the whole of these decorations being in the Italian Renaissance style. To every part of the house there are two separate means of exit, ten in all. "


The Era on April 17, 1889:

"The house consists of four tiers, pit, stalls, dress circle, upper circle and gallery, and will hold about 1500 persons. The auditorium is decorated in Italian Renaissance style, the ornamental work being in high bold relief. The proscenium opening is formed by groups of columns on either side of the first proscenium box, the general form of the theatre being after that of Covent Garden, with four openings forming a square, supporting in their centre a circular dome. The box front of the dress circle tier is divided by groups of cupids sup­porting shields crowned with laurels, each shield bearing the name of a celebrated author."


In:   Mander, Raymond a Mitcheson, Joe. The theatres of London.London, 1963 p. 86




Authors: Victor Glasstone, Raymond Mander, Joe Mitcheson

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