Rainbow Theatre

232-238 Seven Sisters Road,
London, N4 3NX

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Odeon Theatres Ltd., Paramount-Astoria-Theatres Ltd., Rank Organisation

Architects: Edward Albert Stone

Functions: Church

Styles: Atmospheric, Spanish Moorish

Previous Names: Astoria Theatre, Paramount Astoria, Odeon Astoria, Odeon Finsbury Park

Nearby Theaters

Astoria Theatre

The Astoria Theatre, in the inner north London district of Finsbury Park opened on 29th September 1930 with Ronald Coleman in “Condemned” plus a Gala Stage Spectacle, with artists from the other Astoria Theatre’s making a special engagement on the stage, including Clarkson Rose, Herschel Henlere & Teddy Brown and his Xylophone.

It was the fourth of the famous London suburban Astoria Theatres built by Arthur Segal. Decorated in a lavish Spanish Moorish/Atmospheric style by interior decorators Marc-Henri and G. Laverdet. It was equipped with a Compton 3manual/13Rank theatre organ which had two consoles, oner located in the orchestra pit the other on the stage. G.T. Pattman opened the organ. There is a 64 feet wide proscenium with a 35 feet deep stage and 12 dressing rooms. There was a café on the circle foyer and a fountain containing goldfish in the main foyer is still in place today.

Taken over by Paramount-Astoria-Theatres Ltd. in December 1930, it was taken over by Oscar Deutsch’s Odeon Theatres Ltd. on 27th November 1939. The Compton organ was in regular use in February 1958 when an extended ‘roadshow’ run of David Niven in “Around the World in 80 Days” played at the Astoria.

One-night concerts were held on the Astoria Theatre stage in the 1960’s by; Connie Francis, Adam Faith, Shirley Bassey, Johnny Mathis, Dave Brubeck, Ray Charles, Sarah Vaughan, Brook Benton, Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis, Nat ‘King’ Cole, Errol Garner, Cliff Richard, Joe Brown, Dave Clark Five, Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry, Bill Haley, Brenda Lee, The Beatles, Gene Pitney, Roy Orbison, Everly Brothers, Sonny & Cher, Otis Reading, Walker Brothers, Aretha Franklin, Duke Ellington and the Beach Boys…to name a few. “The Beatles Christmas Show” was presented on the stage from 24th December 1963 until 11th January 1964, artistes supporting The Beatles included Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas, Rolf Harris, The Fourmost, Cilla Black, Tommy Quickly and The Barron Knights. A Tamla-Motown show on March 20, 1965 featured The Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles and Georgie Fame.

Re-named Odeon on 17th November 1970, it was closed by the Rank Organisation on 25th September 1971 with Bill Travers in “Gorgo” and Hayley Mills in “Twisted Nerve”.

It was converted into the Rainbow Theatre from 4th November 1971 when The Who performed the first concert in the newly named theatre. It became a world famous venue where all the major groups and artists performed for the next ten years, including; Alice Cooper, Wishbone Ash, Mott the Hoople, Fairport Convention, Joan Baez, Frank Zappa, Doris Troy, Isaac Hayes, Pink Floyd, Steve Miller Band, Desmond Decker, Deep Purple, David Bowie, Genesis, James Brown, ELO, Status Quo, Garry Glitter, Kinks, Chicago, B.B. King, Lou Reed, The Osmonds, Neil Young, Roxy Music, Allman Brothers, Stevie Wonder, 10 CC, Lindisfarne, Bay City Rollers, Queen, Tangerine Dream, Jerry Lee Lewis, Iggy Pop, Marc Bolan & T Rex, David Soul, Elton John, Slade, Dolly Parton, Bob Marley, Rose Royce, Donna Summer, Boney M, Blondie, Olivia Newton John, Sex Pistols, Muhammed Ali, The Jackson’s, Boomtown Rats, Dionne Warwick, Iron Maiden, Billy Connolly, The Jam…..the list goes on…

Occasional films were screened including Jimi Hendrix in “Jimi Plays Berkley” in January 1972, the World Premiere of the Leonard Cohen film “Bird on A Wire” on 5th July 1974 and the last film to be screened at the Rainbow Theatre was on 10th August 1979 Paul McCartney’s “Wings”.

Following numerous licencing violations and poor maintenance the Rainbow Theatre closed on 24th December 1981. It was designated a Grade II Listed building, but it lay empty and unused for the next 14 years.

It was taken over by its new current owners, the Brazilian based United Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) in 1995, and they began work on restoring the building. The auditorium restoration was the last part of the restoration to be completed in 1999, and the theatre is now the United Kingdom headquarters for UCKG.

The Astoria Theatre is a Grade II* Listed building.

Contributed by Ray Martinez, Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 28 comments)

TLSLOEWS on December 28, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Great photos of a great theatre.

woody on February 15, 2011 at 3:05 pm

two press ads for concerts from april 1979 when the Astoria was the Rainbow Theatre one of Londons major rock venues, the second ad has the Rainbow logo as it appeared on the building

keiths on April 5, 2011 at 11:07 am

Thank goodness it’s still there.

Rickyb6 on April 28, 2011 at 4:39 pm

If you want to know who has played there and when check out www.rainbowhistory.x10.mx

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on May 2, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Great pictures and stories,enjoyed them all.

Hofnarr on April 2, 2012 at 2:30 am

hi! does anyone know when the movie “breaking glass” was shot at the rainbow theatre? i know it must’ve been some time in 1980, but i need the exact date as i want to include this scene in a novel … thanks!!!

Rickyb6 on April 15, 2012 at 2:03 am

Hi Hofnarr
See my website www.rainbowhistory.x10.mx to get the information you want – regards Rick

Ian on July 31, 2013 at 1:15 am

Some recent exteriors – including the side revealed by demolition of buildings on Seven Sisters Road – July 2013




keiths on July 31, 2013 at 4:09 am

It really is still a magnificent building. Saw the Beatles and the Yardbirds there one christmas in the 60’s

DavidSimpson on December 24, 2022 at 12:32 am

In “My Autobiography”, motor racing commentator Murray Walker recalled watching the Indy 500 race, held in Indianapolis, USA, on Monday 30th May 1966, at the Astoria. The presentation, via satellite link, was apparently much enjoyed by a “mixed audience of American servicemen and British enthusiasts”.

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