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Dominion Theatre

269 Tottenham Court Road, London W1T 7AQ

Dominion Theatre Google Location Map Google Map: Google Location Map
Dominion Theatre Seating Plan Seating Plan: Seating Plan Open in new window
Nearest Tube Station Tube Station: Tottenham Court Road
Parking Parking: Masterpark at Poland Street; NCP at Great Russell Street.
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Venue Information:
Guide Dogs Guide Dogs:

Guide dogs are allowed into the auditorium. Staff are also willing to dog-sit if you prefer.

Sound Amplification Infra-Red:

Infra-red system 10 headsets and 10 neckloops available ask the duty manager upon arrival at the theatre.

Disabled Wheelchair Access Disabled Access:

Platform lift down 10 steps -û ask the duty manager to operate it. 3 spaces for wheelchair users at XX50, YY50, ZZ50 (the last 2 on a slight slope). Transfer seating to any aisle seat. People with motorised wheelchairs or wheelchairs (maximum of 3) can go in Box B the entrance is to the side of the theatre on Bainbridge Street. Slightly restricted view of the stage from the box. Wheelchair users must bring a non disabled companion (box B only).

Toilets Toilets:

Adapted toilet towards front left of Stalls.

Steps Steps:

No steps to the foyer through double doors opening outwards. Box Office to left. 10 steps down to the Stalls. 32 steps up to the Circle from foyer (2 steps between rows). Staircases have handrails on both sides and steps are highlighted.

Air Conditioning Air Conditioning: Yes
Venue Owner Owner: Nederlander & Live Nation

The Dominion Theatre is located immediately adjacent to Tottenham Court Road tube station at the junction with New Oxford Street. Although its location is central, the property is some distance away from the rest of the West End’s ‘Theatreland’. The site itself is bounded by Tottenham Court Road on the West, Great Russell Street to the north and Bainbridge Street to the South. The building was originally constructed in 1928 and converted to cinema use in 1930. In addition to the main theatre building, there is a large administrative / dressing room block on the right hand side and a terrace of shops, offices and residential buildings on the left overlooking Great Russell Street.

The theatre itself has a structural steel frame with brick elevations and a mixture of flat and steeply pitched roofs. Floors are concrete and windows are generally of the metal-framed type. Floor levels vary considerably, eight building heights being essentially single storey along Tottenham Court Road and six storeys to the Bainbridge Street side. The rear of the theatre is disused for audience purposes and a proportion has been converted into office accommodation for Tickets London and has been linked into 7 Great Russell Street. Internally, in addition to the Bainbridge Street block and main auditorium, public areas and ancillary accommodation used for theatre activities are also fairly extensive and are complex from the point of view of layout.

According to the book “The Theatres of London” by Richard Mander and Joe Mitchenson, this was once the site for the St Giles’s Leper Hospital, founded in 1101 by Matilda, Queen of Henry I. A brewery had covered the ground as far back as 1764, and in 1809 Henry Meux took possession of the brewery, naming it Meux’s Brewery. This was pulled down in 1922, and while the site was vacant, it was used by O’Brien’s Fun Fair. In 1925 the site was levelled and opened as ‘Luna Park’.

Construction of the Dominion Theatre commenced in March 1928. It was built on two sites; the entrance hall and café being built on the site of the former Court Cinema (which existed from October 1911 – March 1928), with the auditorium and stage on a site previously occupied by Meux’s brewery. It was designed by the architects William & T. R. Milburn and the building cost £459, 727.

The Dominion opened on 3rd October 1929 with an American musical comedy on golf by De Sylvia Brown and Henderson called Follow Through (Follow Thru on Broadway). Neither this, nor a follow up musical Silver Wings were very successful. Universal hired the Dominion for its movie Phantom of the Opera with 35% dialogue and some new footage added to the 1925 silent movie. This was followed by Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights without dialogue, but with synchronised music and sound effects. It opened in February 1931, with Chaplin making a personal appearance. More live shows followed, but in April 1932 a receiver was appointed and on 30th May 1932 an order for the compulsory winding up of the company’s affairs was made (it owed half a million pounds).

The following month United Artists experimented with leasing it as the long-desired West End shop window but withdrew it at the end of the year. Associated Provincial Picture Houses (part of Gaumont-British) then took over the Dominion to operate it as a second-run weekly change house from 16 January 1933. Some new films did open here instead of receiving a proper West End run. A special band was featured on stage along with a policy of cine-variety and many artists were also booked to the New Victoria. Large screen television, using Baird apparatus, was tried out as part of the supporting show on 4th January 1937, but the war and BBC opposition curtailed further developments along this line.

By the late Thirties, the Dominion was usually paired with the New Victoria at Victoria (occasionally with the Metropole). Despite its huge seating capacity (given as 2,858 in 1940), the Dominion did well thanks to its excellent location where Charing Cross Road, Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road all meet. The cinema closed temporarily at the height of the Blitz early in October 1940, but re-opened for good on 12 January 1941. After the war, it continued the link with the New Victoria, almost invariable playing with the Gaumont circuit programme for a pre-release week before it went into the Northwest London area to commence its suburban run. In December 1956 Rank first considered making regular use of the Dominion for live shows again and had internal estimates of the cost involved for rewiring and refurbishing the stage facilities. The first major use as a live venue came when the Judy Garland Show ran from Wednesday 16 October to Saturday 16 November 1957. Films continued to be shown at all other times, although the theatre restaurant had closed on 15 June 1957.

The theatre was then selected to show films in the new Todd AO system. Two Phillips 70mm / 35mm projectors were installed in a new projection box at the back of the stalls, providing a 78ft level throw to the screen and an immense 46ft wide screen, with a 5ft deep curvature erected in the 54ft wide proscenium opening. Stereophonic sound was provided and seating came down to 1,654 with the upper gallery being curtained off.

South Pacific inaugurated the new road show policy on 21 April 1958 and racked up the second longest ever run of 4 years 22 weeks, closing down on 30 September 1962. (This record is now held by We Will Rock You)

Samuel Goldwyn had patiently waited more than three years to open Porgy and Bess here but South Pacific’s success did not rub off on it. Cleopatra was another mammoth attraction that opened here in August 1963 but it was The Sound of Music (29th March 1965 to 31 June 1968) that confirmed the Dominion’s pull as a home of musicals. Star, which followed redecoration on 18 July 1968, proved more successful at the Dominion than anywhere else. However, once Hollywood stopped making the big budget extravaganzas the Dominion was in trouble. Live shows came back between the films and following a two-day revival of MGM’s The Band Wagon, the Dominion was earmarked for live use only from 8 November 1981.

The building did however return to films amidst the pop shows and opera seasons – Return of the Jedi opened here (as well as at the Leicester Square Theatre and Odeon Marble Arch) in 1983 and triple bills and musical revivals have also cropped up besides the London Film Festival shows. For the presentation of the stage musical, Time, the theatre had its proscenium arch covered over and side walls and boxes painted black.

The Rank Organisation sold a 125 year lease to a property company in 1987, then leased it back on a short-term basis. Apollo Leisure became the operator of the building, which was listed by the Department of the Environment in 1988. In 1991 Apollo Leisure ceased to operate the Dominion and in 1992 Nederlander Dominion Ltd, of which Apollo Leisure had a financial interest, acquired it. Apollo Leisure operated the theatre for and on behalf of Nederlander Dominion Ltd. In 1999 Apollo Leisure was taken over by the American company SFX Entertainment, which operated its European holdings under the name of SFX Entertainment, Europe. In 2001, SFX was bought by Clear Channel Entertainment. In 2005 Clear Channel the entertainment division, and the company now operates under the name of Live Nation.

Major productions over the last few years include: Notre-Dame de Paris (23/05/2000-16/10/2001), Disney’s Beauty and The Beast (13/05/1997 – 11/12/1999), Scrooge (12/11/1996 – 01/02/1997), Grease (14/07/1993 – 19/10/1996).

Recent acts which have performed at the Dominion also include: Swan Lake (AMP Production) (08/02/2000 – 11/03/2000), Dr John (12/03/2000), Eels (13/03/2000), Paul McKenna’s Hypnotic Show (18/03/2000, & 07/04/2000), Born To Perform (19/03/2000), Tango Passion (21-23/03/2000), Steven Wright (03/04/2000), Dancing In The Streets (05/04/2000), The Black International Comedy Awards (10/04/2000), Shaolin Monks Wheel of Life (12-16/04/2000), Michael Ball (13&14/12/2001), Bottom (6,7,8/12/2001), Paul McKenna (19/12/01), O-Town (27&28/01/02), Melissa Etheridge (02/02/02).

The Royal Variety Performance has been held at the Dominion Theatre on six occasions. It was attended by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip in 2001. The Queen also attended in 2000 with Prince Charles and in 1995. In 1992, Prince Charles and Princess Diana were present.

The Dominion’s present seating capacity is 2,175 making it one of the largest theatres in the West End and celebrated its 75th birthday in 2004.

The theatre continues to play host for one night concerts and is now host to the West End smash ‘We Will Rock You’, music by Queen, book by Ben Elton. Previews began on the 26th April, with the World Premiere on the 14th May 2002.