The Showstoppers are a talented cast of improvisation artists who have honed their craft with a BBC Radio 4 series and over 8 years of touring experience. In September 2015, the multi award-winning group bring fresh ideas and new material to life in Showstopper! The Improvised Musical. What starts as an audience suggestion grows into an all-singing, all-dancing, fully-formed musical in front of your eyes. Past creations have included Baldy and the Beast, Gremlins in the Kremlin and Sweeney Cod; but the beauty of this improvisational masterclass is that you never know what you’re going to get. This unpredictable theatrical experience is unlike any other on the West End and as it closes its run in November 2015, will boast the unbelievable achievement of creating 80 brand new musicals in its first full West End run.
Designed by Lewin Sharp and owned by Henry Lowenfield, the Apollo Theatre opened in 1901 with the American musical 'The Belle of Bohemia'. It was the first London theatre to be built during the Edwardian period and featured three tiers, with the Balcony considered to be the steepest in London.
The theatre hosts 'The Follies'
After presenting a range of light operas and dramas, the venue became home to H.G Pelissier's 'The Follies'. These grew in scale and ambition, touring the UK at the turn of the century, before finding a more permanent home at the Apollo Theatre. Pelissier married Fay Compton in 1912, but he died in September 1913.
Hobson's Choice premieres
Harold Brighouse's play 'Hobson's Choice' opens at the Apollo Theatre following a successful run at the Princess Theatre in New York. The original production starred Norman McKinnel as Henry Horatio Hobson.
Journey's End opens starring Laurence Olivier
R.C Sherriff's World War One drama 'Journey's End' was first performed by the Incorporated Stage Society at the Apollo, before successfully transferring around the West End for the next two years. Set in the the trenches in 1918, this gritty drama was directed by James Whale and starred a 21 year old Laurence Olivier as Stanhope.
Terence Rattigan's 'Flare Path' premieres
A second successful war play premiered at the Apollo Theatre during the Second World War. Produced by Binkie Beaumont, Rattigan's 'Flare Path' was directed by Anthony Asquith and starred Jack Watling and Phyllis Calvert. The show was a critical and commercial success, running for 679 performances, despite the initial scepticism regarding the subject matter.
The first London revival of 'Private Lives' opens
Fourteen years after the original West End production, Noel Coward's most famous comedy 'Private Lives' opened at the Apollo. John Clements starred as Elyot, with Kay Hammond as Amanda.
Boeing-Boeing has its London premiere
The classic French farce by Marc Camoletti had its London premiere at the Apollo Theatre before transferring to the Duchess Theatre where it ran for a total of seven years. Set in the swinging 60s, the comedy revolves around bachelor Bernard, who has three stewardesses all engaged to him without them knowing. The original production starred David Tomlinson in the lead role. The show has since entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the most performed French play in the world.
David Storey's 'Home' runs at the Apollo
Sir John Gielgud returned to the Apollo Theatre to play opposite Ralph Richardson in David Storey's play 'Home'. Set in a mental asylum, it premiered at the Royal Court Theatre before transferring to the Apollo and later Broadway.
The Norman Conquests opens in London
This trilogy of plays by Alan Ayckbourn had its premiere in Scarborough before opening at the Apollo Theatre. The cast starred Tom Cournenay as Norman, Penelope Keith as Sarah Felicity Kendal as Annie and Michael Gambon as Tom. The small scale dramas are comic and portray the relationships of six different characters.
Driving Miss Daisy has its London premiere
Alfred Uhry's play about the relationship between an elderly Southern Jewish woman and her African-American driver originally opened Off-Broadway in 1987. The London production opened in 1988 at the Apollo Theatre and starred Dame Wendy Hiller, Clarke Peters and Barry Foster.
Defending the Caveman runs at the Apollo
Mark Little's one man show 'Defending the Caveman' ran at the Apollo Theatre, where it went on to win the Olivier Award for Best Entertainment.
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
The 2005 Broadway revival of Edward Albee's classic play transferred to the Apollo Theatre in 2006. Directed by Anthony Page, it featured Kathleen Turner as Martha and Bill Irwin as George, who went on to win the 2005 Tony Award for Best Actor.
Glengarry Glenn Ross opens at the Apollo Theatre
David Mamet's striking play about the ruthless world of Chicago salesmen was revived at the Apollo starring Jonathan Pryce and Aidan Gillen. Directed by James Macdonald and featuring designs by Anthony Ward, this bold production of an American classic was a critical hit.
Rain Man has its London premiere
Josh Hartnett made his West End debut in this stage adaptation of the Oscar winning screenplay by Dan Gordon. The production was directed by Terry Johnson and co starred Adam Godley as Raymond. The play examined the nature of love and featured a contemporary story in an exciting and bold setting.
Three Days of Rain opens at the Apollo Theatre
Director Jamie Lloyd brought a new production of 'Three Days of Rain' to the Apollo Theatre. James McAvoy and Nigel Harman starred in Richard Greenberg's play, which explored how the private worlds of each generation go on to be reinterpreted by the next.
All My Sons is revived at the Apollo
Arthur Miller's classic play was revisited once again by Howard Davis, following his previous production at the National Theatre. Featuring stunning designs by William Dudley, this explosive domestic drama starred David Suchet as Joe Keller and Zoe Wanamaker as Mrs Keller. The production gained excellent reviews and went on to be nominated for a string of awards.
Blithe Spirit is revived by Thea Sharrock
Noel Coward's 1941 play 'Blithe Spirit' was revived at the Apollo throughout Spring 2011. Olivier Award winning actress Alison Steadman starred as Madame Arcati who attempts to conjure up the ghost of Charles's first wife during a seance. Ruthie Henshall, Hermione Norris and Robert Bathurst all starred in this impressive production directed by Thea Sharrock.
Jerusalem transfers to the Apollo
Jez Butterworth's play 'Jerusalem' originally opened at the Royal Court Theatre, before transferring to Broadway. The production at the Apollo Theatre was a complete sell out, and earned four Evening Standard Awards as well as the 2011 Tony Award for Best Actor in a play. Mark Rylance reprised his award winning performance as Johnny Byron, in a production directed by Ian Rickson.
Yes Prime Minister opens at the Apollo
Based on the hit satirical TV series of the same name, 'Yes, Prime Minister' opened at the Apollo Theatre. Written by the original writers of the TV series, the memorable characters of Prime Minister Jim Hacker and Sir Humphrey Appleby came to life onstage. The production was commercially successful, and transferred to the Gielgud Theatre following a number of UK tours.
Long Day's Journey Into Night opens at the Apollo
David Suchet returned to the Apollo Theatre in a bold revival of Eugene O'Neill's masterpiece 'Long Day's Journey Into Night'. This compelling domestic drama set in 1912 follows the Tyrone family over one summer day, and is often called one of the greatest American plays of the 20th Century.
Richard III & Twelfth Night transfer from The Globe
Shakespeare's Globe's all male productions of 'Richard III' and 'Twelfth Night' ran in rep at the Apollo Theatre in a sell out Christmas season. Mark Rylance starred in both plays, with TV personality Stephen Fry starring as Malvolio in 'Twelfth Night'. Both productions were critically and commercially successful and later transferred to Broadway.
The Madness of George III transfers to the Apollo
The Theatre Royal Bath's production of Alan Bennett's 'The Madness of George III' transferred to the West End starring David Haig in the title role. This 1991 comedy gained excellent reviews and much praise for Haig, as well as Christopher Luscombe's direction and Janet Bird's design.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time
The National Theatre's compelling production based on Mark Haddon's original novel transferred from the intimate Cottesloe Theatre to the Apollo Theatre following a sell out season. Simon Stephen's stage adaptation is masterfully directed by Marianne Elliot and went on to win the Olivier Award for Best Play.
Let the Right One In
Following a sell out run at the Royal Court Theatre, Jack Thorne's stage adaptation of John Ajvide Lindqvist's horror story about a young vampire, Let the Right One In, transferred to the Apollo Theatre. It's set to run until 27th September and has proved popular amongst the critics.
Urinetown transfers from the St James Theatre
The hit musical Urinetown transferred to the Apollo Theatre on the 29th September after a hugely successful run at the St James Theatre. The show tells the story of a dystopian city suffering from a 20 year drought, and because of the water shortage nobody is allowed to pee for free. Citizens must use the expensive public toilets where the prices are always on the rise. If you're caught relieving yourself anywhere else you're carted away to Urinetown, and nobody ever comes back. But Bobby Strong, an attendant at the urinal Public Amenity #9, plots to discover the secret of Urinetown after he sees his dad taken away by the police. The show has been described as an anti-musical; it's extremely self-referential and often mocks itself throughout.
Dear Lupin Opens
Real life father and son James and Jack Fox star in the West End premiere of a new play based on Roger Mortimer's best selling book 'Dear Lupin:Letters to a Wayward Son'. Adapted for the stage by Michael Simkins the show offers a humorous and often touching look at Mortimer's relationship with his rebellious son Charlie throughout the 1960’s and 70’s.
My Night With Reg
Kevin Elyot's play 'My Night With Reg' comes to the Apollo Theatre from the 17th January until the 11th April 2015. It's set in London in the middle of the 1980s AIDs epidemic, and centres around a group of gay male friends who met at University. They regularly meet for catch up in Guy's apartment, where the entire play is set over the course of a few years. As the friends meet up and discuss their lives it becomes apparent that one character, Reg, has had a profound effect on all of them. But the allusive Reg never appears in the play. At the same time as shouldering his friend's worries, Guy is dealing with an incident which happened to him on holiday in Lanzarote. This production is a highly anticipated transfer from the Donmar Warehouse and is sure to be a hit on the West End.
Showstopper! The Improvised Musical opens
After 8 years of touring various festivals, Showstopper! The Improvised Musical arrived at the Apollo Theatre for its first full West End run. The multi award-winning show is created by The Showstoppers; a talented cast of improvisers who take audience suggestions and create fully-formed new musicals on-the-spot every night.
The Audience explores the unique relationship between The Queen and each of her Prime Ministers. Every Tuesday evening she holds a private meeting with her Prime Minister, but the conversations that take place are never discussed. Kristin Scott Thomas stars in this production whilst Dame Helen Mirren performs as the Queen in the Broadway version.