The Vaudeville Theatre's current building only dates to 1926 but the theatre actually first opened way back on April 16 in 1870. William Wybrow saw a way to turn a profit in theatre and leased the theatre to three actors who opened with a first performance of For Love Or Money and Dos Carlos.The architect was the famous C J Phipps and the decorations came courtesy of George Gordon. The theatre was designed to hold over 1000 patrons but, as the theatre was squeezed behind two houses on the Strand, there wasn't much room and the facilities were somewhat cramped and the entrance was a little hard to find.
Early notable productions include Two Roses starring Henry Irving as Digby Grant in Two Roses. This ran for an unprecedented 300 nights which was really rather extraordinary. The theatre did have a knack for extended runs though with H J Byron's Our Boys going for 500 showings from 1875 and then, later, a massive one thousand.
Thomas Thorne one of the three actors, bought out the whole of the lease in the early 1880s and a few years later he made room for a larger foyer again designed by the same achitect. This also allowed the theatre to be redesigned to make room for more roomy seating and a brand new ceiling. The official reopening was in 1891 with performances of The Note of Hand and Woodbarrow Farm.
However, just a year later, the Gatti family who were the owners of the Adelphi bought out the lease and instantly reprised the famous Our Boys show. The theatre was owned for a short time by Weedon Grossmith but the Gatti family clung on to it and started putting on comic musicals such as The French Maid. Some notable performances around this era include The Catch of the Season, Quality Street, Bluebell in Fairyland, The Cherry Girl and, turn of the century success story, The Belle of Mayfair which ended up running for over 400 performances.
The theatre was completely redesigned during a closure in 1925 and the capacity was rather drastically reduced. The next year the theatre reopened. The Gattis held on to the theatre until 1969 when it was bought by Sir Peter Saunders who ordered another redesign of the interior. Since then there have been a string of different owners including Michael Codron, David Sutton and Stephen Waley-Cohen. More recently Max Weitzenhoffer, sold it to Nimax Theatres Limited in 2005.
Some of the more notable productions include the worldwide hit Stomp, The Importance of Being Earnest, Private Lives and Woman in Mind.