Designed by architect Walter Emden (who also designed the Duke Of York's) and C.J Philips, the Garrick Theatre was built for actor-manager John Hare and commissioned by W.S. Gilbert. Its construction took longer than expected and was delayed when the deep foundations hit an underground river. Today's trains have replaced the waters that used to flow under the theatre.
It opened in 1889 with a drama by Pinero starring John Hare, Lewis Wailer, Katie Rorke and Forbes Robertson. For the story, the theatre was named after the great eighteenth-century actor and built a century after its death. The balcony fronts are formed with finely modelled Cupids holding laurel-decked shields. A portrait of actor Garrick beside a bust of Shakespeare welcomes one into the theatre.
The Garrick went through various managements and was unemployed from 1939 to September 1941. In 1947, actor-singer-dancer Jack Buchanan took over the management and presented a series of successful comedies. The Theatre went through refurbishment between 1965 and 1966. Twenty years after in 1986, the auditorium was restored by stage designer Carl Toms and the exterior stone had a facelift making the colonnade on the first floor come up as new!
The Garrick Theatre attracted famous actors such as Judi Dench, Ruppert Everett, Christian Slater, Matt Damon, Casey Affleck and Summer Phoenix. Previous productions include: Death Trap, Mr and Mrs Nobody, The Vortex, This is Our Youth, One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell, Amy's View and Absurd Person Singular.
Farce is with no doubt the Garrick's dominant mode!