The building was designed as a "super-cinema" by E. Warmsley Lewis in 1930 in striking art deco style. The cinema closed in 1975, reopening six years later as a theatre, with a concert by Shirley Bassey providing the opening night.
For eighteen years, the theatre was home to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, Starlight Express, for which the theatre was extensively redesigned to accommodate a multi-tier roller skating arena. On 12 January 2002, shortly before the show's 18th birthday, Lloyd Webber made the decision to stop the show, in order to open his new production of A. H. Rahman's Bombay Dreams, which received its world premiere on 19 June 2002. The original production, which starred Raza Jaffrey, ran for two years before closing on 13 June 2004 after over 1,500 successful performances.
As a "short" filler production, the Bee Gees musical Saturday Night Fever was brought back to the West End following a 14-month UK tour and a previous world premiere at the London Palladium in 1998. The show, booking to December of that year, was extended and was booking through to 29 April 2006. However, it left the theatre on 18 February 2006 to make way for the European premiere of Broadway's Movin' Out, the Billy Joel musical in March 2006. The show, which starred Britain's James Fox (who also played the 'Pianoman' role on Broadway and on US Tour) was due to run until 17 July 2006, however it closed after only 8 weeks in London citing poor audience figures.
Broadway's Wicked received its European premiere at the venue on 27 September 2006 with an all-star cast including Idina Menzel recreating her original Broadway role as Elphaba, Australia's Helen Dallimore as Glinda, Adam Garcia, Miriam Margolyes, Nigel Planer, Katie Rowley-Jones, James Gillian and Martin Ball. The show took a record-breaking £761,000 during its first eight performances.
The largest West-End Theatre, its capacity is 2,305 including standing spaces.
- The Sound of Music (August 17, 1981 – September 18, 1982)
- Camelot (November 23, 1982 – February 5, 1983)
- Fiddler on the Roof (June 28, 1983 – October 29, 1983)
- Starlight Express (March 27, 1984 – January 12, 2002)
- Bombay Dreams (June 19, 2002 – June 13, 2004)
- Saturday Night Fever (July 2, 2004 – February 18, 2006)
- Movin' Out (March 28, 2006 – May 22, 2006)
- Wicked (premiered September 27, 2006)