Saturday, July 28, 2007

'Mary Poppins' Takes Flight at the Prince Edward Theatre - The Venue

Among the sex shops, pubs and restaurants in the lively if not sleazy area called Soho stands the Prince Edward Theatre. Despite the seedy environs, the theatre has hosted the London premiere of the family-musical ‘Mary Poppins’ since December 2004.

The exterior of the theatre is meant to resemble an Italian palazzo. Once inside, theatregoers are greeted by a spacious circular lobby lit by a large chandelier and a red plush auditorium. Opened in 1930, the theatre has gone through various incarnations from theatre to cabaret-restaurant to cinema before being reclaimed as a legitimate stage theatre with the premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice’s ‘Evita’ in 1978. This musical reigned at the Prince Edward for eight years.

The theatre has continued to host a number of blockbuster musicals: ‘Chess’ (1986), ‘Crazy For You’ (1993) and ‘Mamma Mia!’ (1999). The latter moved to the Prince of Wales Theatre in 2004 where it continues to run. The theatre is scheduled to host the London premiere of the Broadway mega-hit ‘Jersey Boys’ in January 2008.

In regards to the seats and sightlines, this 1,600-seat theatre is one of the most comfortable theatres in London for viewing a play. The theatre is far less cramped than most other venues in London. The aforementioned lobby, hallways and aisles, especially on the stalls level, offer generous breathing and leg room.

The top photo was taken on my last morning after seeing 'Poppins' the previous evening. Notice the blue sky finally appearing. The middle photograph is a view of Old Compton Street. Prior to the end of a matinee earlier in the week, drivers with their pedi-cabs line in front of the theatre in hopes of snagging a patron or two for a fare. In the pic below, theatre patrons mingle and rush outside of the theatre prior to the evening performance.


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