Dominion Theatre (2017) with An American in Paris on its new double-sided LED screen
|Address||Tottenham Court Road|
|Designation||Grade II listed|
|Type||West End theatre|
|Capacity||2,163 on 2 levels |
2,074 (for WWRY)
|Architect||W & TR Milburn|
The Dominion was home to the long-running musical We Will Rock You played at the theatre from 14 May 2002 until 31 May 2014. It was also home to the London auditions of Britain's Got Talent and from February to April 2016 to War of the Worlds.
Over several years, the theatre has undergone a rolling programme of refurbishment which has included reclaiming the area above the main foyer as a studio for rehearsals or events (2008), and reclaiming the offices in Nederlander House, which were originally part of the theatre but had been rented as commercial office space. Within this area, originally listed on the theatre plans as a 'Boardroom', a new Boardroom space has been created (2011). Following the closure of We Will Rock You, the theatre remained dark for 15 weeks, during which time owners undertook a mass programme of refurbishment, including replacing carpets, painting and restoring architectural features, refurbishing seats, renovating the 'front of house' toilets and bars, and updating much of the backstage facilities, including the flying system. This £6 million restoration programme was completed in 2017 with the unveiling of a brand new double-sided LED screen, the largest and highest resolution projecting screen on the exterior of a West End theatre.
Since re-opening on 16 September 2014, the Dominion Theatre has been home to a number of short run musicals and spectaculars, including Evita (September 2014), White Christmas (November 2014), Lord of the Dance (March 2015) and the London premiere of Elf (October 2015). Between March 2017 – January 2018, the Dominion Theatre was home to An American in Paris.
In addition to hosting musicals in recent years, the theatre has also hosted a number of regular charity events, including MADTrust's West End Eurovision (2012, 2013, 2014) and West End Heroes (2013, 2014, 2015). 'West End Heroes' was produced by the theatre and brought together stars from current West End Shows, with musicians, from all the armed forces. The second event, in 2014, was hosted by Michael Ball.
The Dominion is also currently home to Hillsong Church every Sunday.
Construction and restoration
Construction of The Dominion began in March 1928 with a design by W and TR Milburn and a budget of £460,000. The site was the location of the former Horse Shoe Brewery, which was the site of the 1814 London Beer Flood. The first performance was 3 October 1929. The Tottenham Court Road façade features a ground level entry sheltered by a broad marquee with the second through fourth levels framed by large pilasters. The central portion is concave and faced with Portland stone. A three-bay bow window extends the height of the second and third storeys and is surmounted by sculpture of two griffins. Behind the griffin statue are three square openings which hold decorative iron grates. The griffins were removed in 1932 to mount an aeroplane for the musical Silver Wings. The remainder of the bow window was hidden during the run of We Will Rock You by a large shimmer curtain and statue of Freddie Mercury. These elements were reinstalled as part of the restoration. In addition to restoring the Tottenham Court Road façade, the stonework and windows of the dressing room block at the rear of the theatre were cleaned and replaced.
When the Dominion was built, it was linked to the building on Great Russell Street now known as Nederlander House. This building had been separated from the theatre and rented as office space for many decades. In 2011, the Dominion spent £200K reinstating the connection between the theatre, with this building returning its use to that the original theatre builders intended. It is now home to the theatre management offices plus a refurbished Boardroom space on the top floor. This Boardroom is marked as such on the original 1929 plans and it is now being hired out by the theatre's Dominion Events department for meeting, training and conference bookings. Other areas above the main foyer, which the Rank Organisation converted to office space, have been restored and now house 'The Studio' a rehearsal and audition space.
The auditorium currently has a seating capacity of 2,069 in two tiers of galleries, down from the 1940 capacity of 2,858 following the closure many decades ago of the upper circle. The theatre retains its 1920s light fittings and art deco plasterwork.
After initial success, including the London premiere of Charlie Chaplin's City Lights in February 1931, with Chaplin himself attending, the theatre began a financial slide until the company was liquidated 30 May 1932. In 1933, Associated Provincial Picture Houses assumed control of the facility and adapted the auditorium for films. In 1940, Associated became part of the Rank Organisation.
The Dominion temporarily closed because of the Blitz early in October 1940 and reopened on 12 January 1941. After World War II, the theatre hosted both movies and live shows. Bill Haley and the Comets opened their UK tour at the Dominion in February 1957. Its first major live show was The Judy Garland Show which ran for a month in 1957 and it has been a popular venue for musical theatre since. Soon after, the theatre received a Todd-AO system with two Philips 70mm / 35mm projectors and a 45 feet (14 m) wide screen. The film version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific opened 21 April 1958 and played four years and 22 weeks grossing $3.9 million. In 1963, Elizabeth Taylor appeared at the European opening of Cleopatra which played for almost two years. On March 29, 1965 The Sound Of Music film was screened here until June 29, 1968, the longest run of screenings of the film at any venue in the world.
During the 1980s, it became a popular venue for music concerts. It was where Tangerine Dream recorded the album Logos in 1982, which contains a tribute tune called "Dominion". Dolly Parton filmed her 1983 concert at the Dominion and released it as a television special, Dolly in London. Other performers to appear during this era included Duran Duran, Adam and The Ants, Billy Bragg, Bon Jovi, The Boomtown Rats, Boy George, David Bowie, Ian Drury and the Blockheads, Manfred Mann, Sinead O’Connor, Thin Lizzy, U2 and Van Morrison. In 1986, the Dominion hosted the musical Time, whose producers altered the interior extensively to accommodate the production.
Since the early 1990s the Dominion has hosted several musicals including a new production of Grease by David Ian and Paul Nicholas, Scrooge: The Musical, Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake, Disney's Beauty and the Beast, a return of Grease, and Notre Dame de Paris. Bernadette The Musical, by Maureen and Gwyn Hughes, played briefly in 1990.
The Dominion hosted the Royal Variety Performance 1992 through 1996 and in 2000 and 2001.
Comedian Bill Hicks filmed his legendary comedy special, Revelations
In 2002, the hit stage musical We Will Rock You, based on the songs of Queen, created by Queen guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor together with British comedian Ben Elton opened. The show was scheduled to close in October 2006 before embarking on a UK tour, but due to popular demand was extended indefinitely. In 2012, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of We Will Rock You, the theatre created the Freddie Mercury Suite, which displays pictures from the Queen singer's lifetime. This area was previously housed memorabilia of Judy Garland. In March 2014, producers announced that We Will Rock You would close on 31 May 2014.
The Theatre played host to a "re-imagined" production of Jeff Wayne's Musical Version Of The War Of The Worlds from February to April 2016 and featured direction by Bob Thompson, an onstage orchestra conducted by Jeff Wayne and Liam Neeson as the Journalist in 3D holography.
The Dominion has had a variety of owners during its history. The Rank Organisation and Apollo Leisure operated it from 1988 to 1999. In 1999, SFX Entertainment acquired Apollo Leisure and in 2001 Clear Channel Entertainment, part of the US based multinational, purchased SFX. Clear Channel spun-off its venues as Live Nation UK who operated Clear Channel's venues on behalf of the Nederlander Organization. On 23 October 2009 the Nederlander Organization took full control of the venue, purchasing Live Nation's portion of ownership.
Recent and present productions
- Jackie Mason: Brand New! (22 March 1993 – 24 March 1993) by Jackie Mason
- Grease (15 July 1993 – 19 October 1996) & (22 October 2001 – 3 November 2001) by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey
- Scrooge (12 November 1996 – 1 February 1997) by Leslie Bricusse
- Disney's Beauty and the Beast (13 May 1997 – 11 December 1999) by Howard Ashman, Alan Menken, Tim Rice and Linda Woolverton
- Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake (7 February 2000 – 11 March 2000) by Matthew Bourne
- Tango Passion (21 March 2000 – 23 March 2000) by Hector Zaraspe
- Notre-Dame de Paris (23 May 2000 – 6 October 2001) by Richard Cocciante and Luc Plamondon
- We Will Rock You (14 May 2002 – 31 May 2014) by Queen and Ben Elton
- Evita (22 September 2014 – 1 November 2014) by Andrew Lloyd Webber
- Irving Berlin’s White Christmas (8 November 2014 – 3 January 2015) by Irving Berlin
- Frozen Sing-Along (18 February 2015 – 28 February 2015) by Disney and Christophe Beck
- Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games (15 March 2015 – 5 September 2015) by Michael Flatley
- Elf the Musical (5 November 2015 – 2 January 2016) by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin
- The War of the Worlds (February 2016 – April 2016) by Jeff Wayne
- The Bodyguard (15 July 2016 – 7 January 2017)
- An American in Paris (21 March 2017 – 6 January 2018) by George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin and Craig Lucas
- Bat Out of Hell The Musical (2 April 2018 – 5 January 2019) by Jim Steinman
- Big: The Musical (From 10 September 2019 for 9 weeks)
- Irving Berlin’s White Christmas (15 November 2019 - 4 January 2020) by Irving Berlin
- The Prince of Egypt (5 February 2020 - )
Hillsong Church London
Since January 2005, Hillsong Church London have held church services each Sunday at the Dominion Theatre.
- "'We Will Rock You' to Close at the Dominion, May 31". Broadway World. 11 March 2014. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
- "Restoration". Nederlander Organization. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
- "The Dominion Theatre, home to An American in Paris, completes £6M refurbishment". mr.carlwoodward.com. 7 August 2017.
- Cavendish, Dominic (22 September 2014). "Evita, Dominion Theatre, review: an 'air of hollowness'". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
- Porteous, Jacob (18 August 2015). "Full Cast Announced For Elf The Musical At The Dominion Theatre". London Theatre Direct. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
- "An American in Paris extends in the West End". 27 April 2017.
- "The Early Years". Dominion Theatre. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
- Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1379033)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
- "Dominion Theatre, London". London Theatre Direct. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
- "Bill Haley – Feb / March 1957 « American Rock n Roll the UK Tours". Retrieved 8 August 2018.
- "'South Pacific' Sets All-Time UK B.O. Record, Bigger Than 'Wind'". Variety. 3 October 1962. p. 25.
- "The Rock and Roll Years". Dominion Theatre. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
- Nightingale, Benedict (4 May 1986). "STAGE VIEW; In London, Green Lasers and Red Smoke". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
- "Archive". Royal Variety Performance. Archived from the original on 18 March 2014. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
- "Fredie Mercury Hospitality Suite". Dominion Theatre. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
- "Queen musical We Will Rock You to close after 12 years". BBC News. 11 March 2014. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
- "Ownership and Independence". Dominion Theatre. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
- Tipple, Ben (1 December 2017). "Bat Out Of Hell is coming back to the West End | Ticketmaster UK Blog". Ticketmaster UK.
- Earl, John; Sell, Michael, eds. (October 2000). Guide to British Theatres 1750-1950. A & C Black. pp. 106–7. ISBN 978-0713656886.
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