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Built by W.G.R. Sprague as a pair alongside the Aldwych Theatre, the building originally opened as the Waldorf Theatre in 1905, before being renamed the Strand Theatre in 1909 and later the Whitney Theatre 1911, before reverting back to the Strand Theatre once more in 1913. In 2005, Delfont Mackintosh renamed the venue the Novello Theatre, in honour of Ivor Novello, who lived above the theatre for almost forty years.

Early productions included Lights Out (1905), starring Harry Irving, followed by Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard (1909), Aren’t Men Beasts (1936) and Spotted Dick (1939). Throughout the 1940's the theatre hosted comedies such as Arsenic and Old Lace which ran for 1,337 performances, Sailor Beware! (1955), which ran for 1,231 performances and Sondheim's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1963-1965).

1971 saw Michael Crawford star in No Sex Please, We’re British!, which ran at the Novello Theatre for ten years before transferring to the Garrick Theatre to continue its run. Following productions included The Real Thing (1982-1985), Cabaret (1986-1987), Someone Like You (1990), Leonardo the Musical: A Portrait of Love (1993), Buddy (1995-2002) and The Rat Pack: Live from Las Vegas (2003-2005).

After several successful shows, the Royal Shakespeare Company arrived at the venue in 2005 and remained until 2007, with a brief interlude of Footloose - the Musical (2006), starring Cheryl Baker. RSC productions included Twelfth Night, The Comedy of Errors, A Midsummer Night's Dream, As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, Anthony and Cleopatra and The Tempest.

A brief interlude of musicals followed, including The Drowsy Chaperone (2007), Desperately Seeking Susan - A New Musical (2007), featuring music by Blondie and Deborah Harry and starring Emma Williams and Kelly Price. After receiving less than rave reviews, the musical lasted for only eight weeks and was replaced with Shadowlands (2007-2008), which transferred from Wyndham's Theatre.

The RSC returned once more between 2008-2009, presenting Hamlet, A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Taming of the Shrew. A revival of the Broadway musical Spring Awakening (2009) followed, as well as An Inspector Calls (2009), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (2009-2010), Tap Dogs (2010), Betty Blue Eyes (2011), Crazy for You (2011-2012) and a new production of Noises Off (2012), starring Celia Imrie, followed by a brief Derren Brown show.

Since 2012, the Novello Theatre has made its name hosting worldwide ABBA sensation Mamma Mia!, which transferred to the venue from the Prince of Wales Theatre.

Past Shows

Mamma Mia!
(closed 19 Sep 2020)
Svengali - Logo 100x150
Derren Brown - Svengali
(closed 11 Aug 2012)
Noises off small
Noises Off
(closed 30 Jun 2012)

Crazy For You
(closed 17 Mar 2012)
Betty Blue Eyes
Betty Blue Eyes
(closed 24 Sep 2011)