Book Caroline, or Change Tickets
Caroline, or Change CastSharon D. Clarke
Caroline, or Change Critics & Reviews*****
Northumberland Avenue, London, WC2N 5DE
Address: Northumberland Avenue, London, WC2N 5DE
Designed by Blow and Billerey in 1907 after the original theatre was destroyed. The Theatre is currently owned by Ambassador Theatre Group.
The theatre was initiated in 1882 by Sefton Parry, a speculative theatre builder, who bought the site hoping it would have to be purchased from him by the South Eastern & Chatham Railway Company, whose terminus was alongside. The Royal Avenue Theatre opened on 11 March 1882 with a revival of Offenbach's Madam Favart. The prefix Royal was soon dropped from the theatre's name, but comic operas, burlesques and the like remained the staple fare for several years. For much of this time, Arthur Roberts, a popular star of the music halls, led the company at the Avenue.
In the early 1890s the emphasis changed to drama and in 1894 Miss Horniman, the tea heiress, later a pioneer of the repertory movement, anonymously sponsored the actress Florence Farr in a season of plays. Sadly, the first production failed but Miss Farr persuaded her friend, a certain George Bernard Shaw, to finish his play, Arms and the Man, as a speedy replacement and his first West End production. It was successful enough to allow him to drop his music criticism in favour of play writing.
The theatre was rebuilt in 1905 to the designs of Blow & Billerey. During the work, part of the roof of the adjacent Charing Cross railway station collapsed. The roof and girders fell across the train lines but part of the stations western wall also fell and crashed through the roof and wall of the theatre. This resulted in the deaths of three people in the station, and three workmen who working on the site of theatre and injured many more. The theatre was repaired and re-opened as the Playhouse Theatre on 28th January 1907 with a one act play called The Drums of Oudh and a play called Toddles, by Tristan Bernard and Andre Godfernaux.
Since then, the beautiful Playhouse has hosted the likes of WS Gilbert, legendary actress-manager Gladys Cooper, the BBC, The Almeida Theatre Company, The Peter Hall Company, and Janet McTeer. In January 2003, Maidstone Productions became the new independent owners of the Theatre. Maidstone Productions, belonging to London and Broadway producers Ted and Norman Tulchin, has been behind a string of hit productions on both sides of the Atlantic, including Gagarin Way, Eden and Vincent in Brixton in the West End; Yazmina Reza's The Unexpected Man, as well as Donald Margulies' Dinner with Friends, which won the Pulitzer Prize. This was in addition to Turgenev's Fortune's Fool on Broadway, starring Alan Bates and Frank Langella, both winning Tony Awards for best actor and best supporting actor.
The Ambassador Theatre Group have maintained stewardship of the Playhouse Theatre since 2003 and have recently acquired 100% ownership from it’s partners Maidstone Productions. Recent productions include Richard Eyre's production Vincent in Brixton starring Clare Higgins and Journey's End directed by David Grindley. The theatre has most recently been home to La Cage Aux Folles, Dreamboats & Petticoats, The Mystery of Charles Dickens - Simon Callow’s one man show. The Playhouse is currently home to ATG’s hugely successful production of Monty Python’s Spamalot by Eric Idle, which has starred Marcus Brigstocke, Jon Culshaw and Stephen Tompkinson, Warwick Davis, Les Dennis and most recently BBC’s Dick and Dom.
Access description: Level access through double doors opening outwards from the pavement. Box Office on the left, then 3 shallow steps up to foyer. No further steps into Stalls seating. 28 steps up to Dress Circle and 82 steps up to Upper Circle. Staircases have highlights and hand rails. Hard flooring in foyer for wheelchairs. Theatre opens 30min before performance.
Sound Amplification: Induction loop system at Box Office. Infra-red system in auditorium. 11 headsets and 3 loops.
Guide Dogs: Guide dogs are allowed inside the auditorium. Staff also available to dog-sit in foyer or Box Office.
Disabled Access: Contact the Box Office in advance so that the ramp (steep) can be placed over the 3 shallow steps inside the main entrance. No steps to the Stalls, which are on a shallow rake. 2 spaces for wheelchair users at G1 and G24. Companions can sit in same row. Scooter users can access the foyer and stalls, but must transfer. Transfer seating available to any Stalls aisle seat. Each wheelchair user must bring a non-disabled companion.
Toilets: Toilets off the restaurant bar, the Royal Circle and the Upper Circle.
Disabled Toilets: Adapted toilet in foyer to the right of the Stalls entrance.
Facilities At Playhouse Theatre
Seat plan: Playhouse Theatre Seat Plan
Facilities: Air conditioned
Infrared hearing loop
Nearest tube: Embankment
Tube lines: District, Bakerloo, Northern, Circle
Location: West End
Railway station: Charing Cross
Bus numbers: (Whitehall) 3, 12, 24, 53, 88, 91, 159, 453; (Strand) 6, 9, 11, 13, 15, 23, 29, 87, 139, 176
Night bus numbers: (Whitehall) 12, 53, 88, 159, 453, N2, N3, N5, N18, N20, N44, N52, N91, N97, N109, N136, N381; (Strand) 6, 23, 139, 176, N9, N11, N13, N15, N21, N26, N29, N47, N87, N89, N155, N343, N550, N551
Car park: Trafalgar (10mins)
Within congestion zone?: Yes
Directions from tube: (2mins) Follow Embankment Place right under the bridge; turn right onto Northumberland Avenue and you’ll see the theatre.