Criterion Theatre London
About the Criterion Theatre
The Criterion Theatre is situated in the heart of London’s busy Piccadilly Circus. Dating back to 1874 and designed by architect Thomas Verity (who also designed the Harold Pinter Theatre) the Grade II listed building was originally intended to be a multi-purpose concert hall complex, consisting of a restaurant, ballroom, private dining rooms and a galleried concert hall below ground level. However, as building work commenced it was decided that the concert hall was to be replaced by a theatre, with the restaurant and ballroom on the top levels of the building.
Renowned dramatist and librettist, W. S. Gilbert (one half of Gilbert & Sullivan) premiered several works in the early days of the Criterion Theatre, including the comic opera Haste to the Wedding and the farces On Bail and Foggerty's Fairy. During the Second World War, the BBC requisitioned the theatre due to its underground location, making it safe from bombing during the Blitz, and broadcast many comedies live to the nation.
The Criterion Theatre is one of a few West End venues not operated by Ambassador Theatre Group, LW Theatres, Nimax or Delfont Mackintosh; others include the Shaftesbury Theatre and Theatre Royal Haymarket. More recently, it has housed several successful productions including being the home of the Reduced Shakespeare Company from 1996-2005; The 39 Steps from 2006-2015, and Mischief Theatre's The Comedy About a Bank Robbery until 2020.