London Coliseum

38 St. Martin's Lane,
London, WC2N 4ES

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London Coliseum

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Opened on 24th December 1904 as the London Coliseum Theatre of Varieties, it was built for Sir Oswald Stoll and designed by famed theatre architect Frank Matcham. It was the largest and most luxurious ‘family’ variety theatre in London. Seating was in three tiers. orchestra stalls, dress circle, grand tier and balcony. It was the only theatre in Europe that provided lifts (elevators) taking patrons to the upper parts of the theatre. The Coliseum was the first theatre in England to have a triple revolve installed on its stage.

Variety shows continued until 1931 when it became home to big musicals and was known as the Coliseum Theatre. From 1947 it staged big American musicals such as “Annie Get Your Gun” (which ran for three years), “Kiss Me Kate”, “Guys and Dolls”, “Pajama Game”, “Damn Yankees”, “Bells are Ringing” and “Most Happy Fella”.

From 16th June 1963 it became the second of London’s three Cinerama Theatres, first showing the 3-strip version for the first 5 months, then 70mm single strip film was shown until 22nd May 1968 when it screened its final movie.

The theatre was then purchased by the English National Opera company, who produce opera, sung in English. In 2004, work was completed on a total restoration of the theatre.

The London Coliseum is designated a Grade II* Listed building by English Heritage.

Contributed by KenRoe

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 10, 2005 at 4:00 am

A recent photograph of the facade of the London Coliseum Theatre:
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rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on December 10, 2005 at 8:43 am

I saw the late June Bronhill on stage in “The Merry Widow” at the London Coliseum in Sept. 1959. What a beautiful, glamourous, huge theatre. It must have made a great Cinerama house. I have attended several ENO performances there over the years. A wonderful theatre, even the outside walls are interesting— the facade, for sure; plus the north sidewall, and the rear stage wall. An outstanding theatre.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 29, 2006 at 2:46 am

Two views of the London Coliseum auditorium and proscenium, taken before the recent 2004 refurbishment. (When a Cinerama theatre, the screen extended in-front of the eight stage boxes):
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Ian on September 9, 2008 at 5:52 am

Two exterior photos taken in September 2008 here:–

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Ken Roe
Ken Roe on November 22, 2008 at 11:11 am

Two vintage views of the auditorium, as seen from the stage:
In the 1930’s:
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In the 1970’s:
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TLSLOEWS on November 8, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Very, Very, Nice.

cultman1 on October 21, 2011 at 2:48 am

Ken do you have any photos of The Astoria Cinerama Screen? I see plenty of info on the cinema itself, and early pics of the auditorium, but nothing on the Cinerama/todd AO days? thanks

Robbie25646 on August 18, 2012 at 7:28 am

Ken Roe, What memories you stirred in me, I can remember seeing all the Cinerama films you mentioned. Do you by any chance have any photos or info on the travelling Cinerama theatre that toured the UK in the mid 1960’s?

CSWalczak on August 18, 2012 at 9:00 am

There is some information about this traveling Cinerama theatre here.

curmudgeon on April 28, 2015 at 7:03 am

A long shot. I had the honour of working for the ENO in the Box Office at the Coliseum in the mid ‘70’s. My name is John and I was on a working holiday visa from Australia when I was lucky enough to secure this dream job. My manager at this time – who I regretfully cannot recall his name – offered to approach Lord Harwood (ENO)to intercept on my behalf for a visa extension. Long story short, family commitments, un-requited love affair (sob) and sub standard accommodation saw me throw in the towel and return to Australia. Would love to contact anyone who may remember me from this time. I was sometimes called “Wombat” or “Possum” (no PC in those days!)and had to be reminded time and again that there was no “H” in reference to “La Belle Helene”.

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