L'événement culturel de l'été à Bruxelles!
Wyndham s Theatre
The Stalls section is priced at one level with only the two back rows offering any form of discount. The section is divided by a half aisle, and the seats fan out from the stage with shorter rows leading to longer rows towards the back. All seats fall into the proscenium giving a good overall view of the stage. Seats are raked gently from the first couple of rows, and this becomes more severe from row H. Seats in the first three rows feel very close to the stage, and depending on the performance can be restricted. The final two rows of the stalls are divided by an aisle, and are priced a level below as the top of the stage is obstructed. For most performance this is not too much of an issue.
The overhang begins around row J, with Rows M and back suffering from the level above. Best value seats are therefore from row E - L, as central as possible. The stalls are 18 steps below street level.
The Dress Circle once again is all priced at one level, despite a mixed degree of seating views. Known as the Royal Circle in this theatre, the section is undivided and is wide with six rows running up to thirty seats. The front rows curve around the balcony, and as the section is particularly shallow, some seats towards the ends of each row offer slightly side on views. The section is all raked throughout although legroom is not brilliant compared to other venues. From row D-F the views are not as good as elsewhere in the house at the same price. The overhang of the Grand Circle begins to effect the view from rows E and F, with row G set behind the rest of the seats.
Boxes on this level do not provide good value for money, as a lot of the stage can be lost. The chairs are free standing, so you may be able to move around the get the best view.
Legroom in the Upper Circle isn't fantastic, and due to the shape of the section it can feel uncomfortable. Prices continue to get cheaper towards the back of the section, but seats at the end of each row should be avoided or chosen only when discounted. The four rows wrap around the balcony with some seats giving a side on view of the stage. Seats do feel far away from the stage, and can be affected by lighting equipment so the front row can sometimes have sight problems. The best seats are towards the centre of rows B and C, and you should try to sit as close to here as possible. The first and last seats of each row are often counted as 'restricted view' because of the curve of the balcony.
The balcony is divided into two sections, right and left. Seats are usually all priced the same, and those towards the centre offer the best value. A general safety rail runs along the balcony and can affect the view for shorter audience members, but the safety rails in front of rows B and D do not affect the view. Although you feel close to the celing of the theatre and seem very far from the action the overall view is pretty clear. Those looking for a bargain will be able to see the action, although feel far away.
Wyndham’s Theatre is situated on the western edge of Covent Garden, close to the junction of Charing Cross Road with Cranbourne Street, amid a mass of street furniture. The building occupies an island site, which prior to their demolition in 1897 supported some dozen small units, including a pub. It Is divided from Its neighbours by St Martin’s Court, a narrow pedestrian way paved with York stone, which precludes any possible expansion beyond its existing yellow stock-brick outer walls. To Its north a dull stone block of the 1930s gives access to Leicester Square underground station, and a plaque records the birth here in 1859 of Sidney Webb, the Fabian socialist and gradualist social reformer. In an area once famous for 'horsy and fighting men’, the neighbouring Round Table pub Is said to have housed American John C. Heenan before his championship fight with Englishman Tom Sayers at the end of the 18th century.
Sir Charles Wyndham was born In Liverpool in 1837 and christened Charles Culverwell. The son of a surgeon, he studied medicine In London and Dublin, qualifying In 1858, but at the same time and - against his father’s wishes - he harboured a burning desire to become an actor. In 1862 Culverweil joined the federal army to serve as a surgeon in the American Civil War, taking leave from his duties during the winter months to appear on the New York stage. In 1865 he returned home to pursue a theatrical career, changing his name to Wyndham along the way. In 1875 he became actor-manager at the Criterion Theatre, and It was here that he met the 23-year-old actress Mary Moore, already married to playwright James Albery (who died of cirrhosis of the liver In 1889) and a mother of three children. Beautiful and clever, Mary became Wyndham’s leading lady and business partner, and his wife only three years before his death In 1919. By that time they owned three West End theatres, the Criterion, Wyndham’s and the New (now the Noël Coward Theatre) In St Martin's Lane; and Charles Wyndham had become Sir Charles, having been knighted for services to the theatre In 1902, an accolade that ensured his acceptance Into the polite society of Edwardian England.
Having found success on the London stage by the late 1890s, Wyndham turned to pursue his longstanding ambition to establish his own theatre. The buildings on the Charing Cross Road site were in a state of decay, and ripe for redevelopment. A Mr Pyke had also noted the island’s potential, but the Marquess of Salisbury, upon whose land the buildings stood, so admired Wyndham as an actor that this opposition was summarily despatched, and the site was Wyndham’s - provided he could raise the purchase price and subsequent building costs. He was not a wealthy man, and It was Mary Moore who rescued a potentially difficult situation, raising the money through her society connections.
To design his theatre, Charles Wyndham commissioned the 34-year-old W. G. R. Sprague, an admirer of the French and Italian Renaissance. In Wyndham’s - one of eight theatres that Sprague had on his drawing board In 1899 - he produced the epitome of European civic theatre architecture overlaid with an English sense of good breeding and quiet confidence. Faced In Portland stone, the free classical façade of two and three storeys Is three major bays wide. The central bay has a balustrade loggia at first-floor level, and a crowning pediment containing a bust of Shakespeare flanked by muses and cherubs. The foyer entrance is to the left of the façade, leading through enriched doors to a very pretty circular blue and gold foyer with a small but attractive staircase, which, In turn, gives way to one of London's most beautiful and little-altered auditoria. Elegant and sophisticated, It is decorated In a Louis XVI style, retaining the original turquoise blue and cream colour scheme described in The Era of November 1899, with painted panels of flowers and leaves on the royal- circle front, and lion-head masks and medallions, in painted panel, on the grand-circle front. The steeply raked balcony rises up from the rear of the grand circle. The richly gilded architectural proscenium is dominated by three-dimensional allegorical figures and flanked by three tiers of bow- fronted boxes between Corinthian pilasters. The circular celling comprises four very fine painted panels after François Boucher, an 18th-century painter of pastorals.
Although little survives of the original timber sub¬stage machinery, the fly-floors were fully hemp- worked until 2008. While this was a rare and rewarding sight, it Imposed limitations on the productions that could be brought into the theatre as well as creating health and safety issues.
The theatre opened with David Garrick in a play by T. W. Robertson, and has since staged many successes, including J. M. Barrie’s Dear Brutus (1917), Edgar Wallace’s The Ringer (1926) and, after the Second World War, Quiet Weekend, which ran for 1,059 performances. More recent successes include The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1966) Godspeii (1972) and Art (1996).
1899. Designed by W. G. R. Sprague for (Sir) Charles Wyndham and Mary Moore, and built on the Marquess of Salisbury's estate / Statutorily Listed Historic Building: Grade II*
A perfect example of how judicious planning can achieve an illusion of space on a very restricted site / One of the finest theatre interiors in London