Coliseum Theatre

The London Coliseum
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The London Coliseum

The Coliseum Theatre is one of London's largest and best equipped theatres, opening in 1904. Built by Frank Matcham, a famous theatrical architect who designed two famous London theatres: the London Palladium and the London Coliseum. It underwent extensive renovations between 2000 and 2004 and has the widest proscenium arch in London as well as being one of the earliest to have electric lighting. It was built with a revolving stage although this was rarely used.

It was the creation of the most powerful theatre manager of the day, Oswald Stoll, and the foremost theatre architecht, Frank Matcham. Their ambition was to build the largest and finest 'Peoples palace of entertainmetn' of it's age. It was known as the London Coliseum. Becoming the Coliseum Theatre between 1931 and 1968 (651 performances of the musical comedy White Horse Inn, starting April 8, 1931), it reverted to the original name in 1968, when English National Opera moved into the theatre in 1968. In 1992 ENO bought the freehold for 12.8m.

The inaugural performance was a variety bill on December 24 1904.

It remains the home of the English National Opera (ENO), previously known as the Sadler's Wells Opera Company (they changed their name in 1974) who had moved from the Sadler's Wells Theatre.

As a 14th birthday treat, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was taken by her parents to a West End show, to see Sir Charles Hawtrey at the London Coliseum (on August 4, 1914). On the same day her future father-in-law, King George V, summoned the Privy Council and declared war (see World_War_I) on Germany.

The above event is commemorated in a poem by the Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion celebrating her 100th birthday in 2000.

The theatre was the settting for the 2004 Royal Variety Performance in the presence of HRH the Prince of Wales

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