Norman Warwick remembers

The Mayfair Theatre opened in 1963 and was situated in the former Candlelight Room of the May Fair Hotel, on Stratton Street, near Berkely Square, in London. The Theatre’s entrance was situated just to the left of the main entrance to the Hotel, and its Box Office was just inside the doors.

The Candlelight Room had originally been designed as a Ballroom and Cabaret Space for the Hotel, which was built in 1927, but in 1962 the brothers Lee and Edward Danziger, who had owned the Hotel since the 1950s, decided to create a Theatre in its former Ballroom.

The Theatre was designed by George Beech, A.R.I.B.A. who had to completely demolish the old Candlelight Room (left) , famous for it’s Big Band adio Broadcasts in the 1930s, and create a new and enlarged Theatre space within it’s place.

The so called’ Unlocking of the Doors’ to the new Theatre, was performed by Sir Ralph Richardson (right) on the 11th of June 1963, and the Theatre opened on the 17th of June 1963 with Ralph Richardson leading a revival of Luigi Pirandello’s play ‘Six Characters in Search of an Author’.

The Theatre was equipped with a small Stage, 26 foot wide, with a Counter Weighted Fly Gallery, and there was an enclosed lighting control room at the back of the auditorium. The Theatre also had a Musicians Gallery running down one side of the auditorium, and backstage there was a dressing room block for artistes, with wardrobe and makeup facilities.

The Theatre’s auditorium, which could seat 310 people, was all on one level with raked seating, but the seats themselves, and indeed the stage, could all be removed on their own rostra, so as to rearrange the Theatre into a various different forms, namely: a Proscenium layout; an Apron layout, with the audience seated in front and beside the stage; or as a Theatre in the Round. The Theatre was also air conditioned and soundproofed, so as not to disturb the Hotel’s guests.

The Danziger brothers sold the MayFair Hotel to Grand Metropolitan Hotels Ltd in 1964, and in 2004 it was sold to the Edwardian Group who still run it today.

The MayFair Theatre itself was converted into a Cinema when the Hotel was renovated in 2005 and its main use today is for private screenings, conferences, and product launches etc.

The Stage of the Theatre is still there but now blocked off and used as office space, a door to to the left of the former Proscenium arch of the Theatre in the current Cinema still leads to the Theatre’s former stage.

You may like to visit the MayFair Hotel’s own page for the MayFair Theatre here.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me.

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