(Formerly Sans Pareil, 1806–19; Adelphi, 1819–29; Theatre Royal, New Adelphi, 1829–67; Royal Adelphi, 1867–1901; Century, 1901–2; Royal Adelphi, 1902–40.) Opened in 1806 by John Scott, a local tradesman, to launch his daughter as an actress.
It was sold in 1819 to Jones and Rodwell who put on burlettas and dramatized versions of Walter Scott’s novels. In 1821 Moncrieff’s dramatization of Pierce Egan’s Tom and Jerry, or Life in London had over 100 performances, a long run in those days. In 1834 the first sinking stage in England was installed. From 1837 to 1845 popular dramatizations of Dickens’s novels were performed here. In 1844 Madame Celeste and Ben Webster took over the management.
They produced ‘Adelphi dramas’, mostly written by J.B. Buckstone, of which the best were The Green Bushes (1845) and The Flowers of the Forest (1847). The theatre was rebuilt in 1858 by T.H. Wyatt to look like the Opera Comique in Paris. In the 1880s and 1890s it was famous for melodramas produced by G.R. Sims, Henry Pettit and Sydney Grundy. Among them were In the Ranks (1883), The Harbour Lights (1885) and The Bells of Hazlemere (1887).
In 1897 a real drama took place outside the theatre when William Terris, the leading actor, was shot by a lunatic. In 1900 the theatre was rebuilt by Ernest Runtz. In 1904–8 Otho Stuart’s management was noted for its productions of modern drama and Shakespearean revivals. From 1908 to 1922 musical comedies were staged. The most successful of these were The Quaker Girl (1908), Tina (1915), High Jinks (1916), The Boy (1917), The Naughty Princess (1920) and The Golden Moth (1921). These were followed by dramas, musical comedies and revues. Outstanding productions were the revue Clowns in Clover (1927) and the musical comedy Mr Cinders (1929).
The theatre was again rebuilt, by Ernest Schaufelberg, in 1930 and reopened with Evergreen produced by C.B. Cochran. Me and My Girl ran from 1985 to 1993, when it transferred to the Haymarket Theatre, and Chicago which started its run in 1998 was still showing six years later. In 1993 Andrew Lloyd Webber became part-owner of the Adelphi; the front-of-house was refurbished back to the art deco style, and in 2000 the theatre became part of the Really Useful Theatre Company. The seating capacity is 1,500.
Excerpted from The London Encyclopaedia by kind permission of the Publishers, Pan MacMillan.