The first performance during my London visit was 'Evita' at the Adelphi Theatre. The site of the Adelphi on the Strand has had a theatre under different names going back to 1804. The theatre has three levels of audience seating: stalls (orchestra level), dress circle (mezzanine/lower balcony), and upper circle (upper balcony) and a total of 1,480 seats. Like many theatres in a the West End, for a few pence audience members seated in the back rows can unlock a binocular on the seatback in front of them for use during the performance.
One thing Americans will learn immediately when attending a London theatre performance is programs are not free. On Broadway, theatres are littered with discarded playbills at the end of a performance. Everyone who purchases a program in London leaves with it. Depending on the production, a program will cost you about GBP3-4 (approx US$6-8). Since 'Evita' was in its last week, the theatre had a special selling both the program and souvenir brochure (an 9x13 booklet containing full color photographs of the production) for GBP4.50.Among well-know productions that have played this theatre: “Me and My Girl” (with Emma Thompson) and “Chicago” (which vacated the Adelphi and moved to the Cambridge Theatre prior to the opening of 'Evita'). The next tenant is the revival of 'Joseph & The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat' which opens in July 2007. Like the "Grease: You're the One That I Want" talent competition in America, the lead of Joseph is being chosen via television talent show by the viewing audience.
Coming full circle, the first theatre production I ever saw in London in 1993 was 'Sunset Boulevard' at this theatre. That production starred Patti Lupone and Kevin Anderson and resulted in tons of press when Lupone was dismissed from opening the show on Broadway while she was still appearing in the show in London. It reportedly cost composer Andrew Lloyd Webber one million dollars to buy out her Broadway contract.
The theatre is owned and operated by Really Useful Theatres, a division of Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group. Below is a view looking west on the Strand.