Wyndham’s theatre opened in 1899 and is a Grade II listed building. It's very grand and ornate, the brainchild and long-held dream of actor/manager Charles Wyndham. The debut production at the theatre was a revival of T.W. Robertson’s play David Garrick.
The venue has always had a reputation for presenting high-quality plays and dramas that dominated the West End for over 100 years. Early productions at the theatre included Mrs Dane’s Defence in 1900 and Little Mary in 1903. In the run-up to the start of World War One, the theatre presented the anonymously written play An Englishman’s Home. This hugely patriotic play was seen as clever piece of propaganda to get young men to enlist in the army.
Throughout the First World War, the theatre was highly active, presenting such productions as Raffles in 1914, Dear Brutus in 1917 and the 1919 production of The Choice. These comedies and light-hearted entertainments were supposed to keep up morale in the city, despite the ravages of war and growing economic and political tensions.
The early 1930s saw the theatre become the hot ticket in London, owing to crime writer Edgar Wallace and his nail-biting plays – masterpieces like The Ringer and The Calendar. Wallace had intended a further six shows for the Wyndham’s but, sadly, this was never to be the case, as he died suddenly in 1932.
In 1936, Noel Coward directed Mademoiselle at the venue. It was adapted from the French play by Audrey and Waveney Carten, to whom Coward wrote: ‘About this play of Jacques Deval’s, you've been extremely clever gals … although it jerks from gloom to fun, I think the bloody thing will run.’
At the outbreak of Work War Two in 1939, the theatre was forced to shut for a short time. Then it re-opened to present Diversion, a revue designed to make audiences forget their Blitz worries and have some badly needed escapist fun.
One of the theatre’s biggest successes was a revival of Sandy Wilson’s 1920’s musical, The Boyfriend, which ran at the theatre for over five years and played an amazing 2078 performances at the venue before transferring to Broadway.
The 1970s saw the musical Godspell become a roaring success, running for two and a half years at Wyndham’s. In recent years, the theatre has housed some legendary productions including the West End transfer of the acclaimed National Theatre production of Alan Bennett’s The History Boys in 2006, Much Ado About Nothing starring David Tennant and Catherine Tate, and Quatermaine’s Terms starring Rowan Atkinson.
In 2012, the theatre was home to the stage adaptation of the Oscar-winning film The King’s Speech, which survived for less than two months before closing early in May 2012. To this day it continues to present some of the world’s top plays and is one of London’s best-loved theatres for this very reason.