Designed by Walter Emden for Frank Wyatt and his wife Violet Melnotte, know to everyone as "Madame", the Duke Of York's Theatre was the first of the three theatres to open in St Martin's Lane. In 1892, as the time it was built, the lane was literally a lane with muddy ditches on either side. The two other theatres to open on the same street were the Albery Theatre and the Coliseum.
As few other theatres in London, it opened with a different name: the Trafalgar Square Theatre and this was only in 1895 that it changed to what we know it as today! In 1897,Violet let the theatre on a long lease to the American impresario Charles Frohman. It wasn't long until audiences filled up the auditorium. Known as "The Napoleon of the Theatre", Frohman brought fame, prestige and money to the tills of the Duke of York's.
With a seating capacity of over 640 seats, the theatre has housed, over the years, some of the most talented and famous actors such as Charlie Chaplin, Marie Tempest, Ellen Terry, John Gielgud and even Al Pacino! It was also here that the first Peter Pan production to be produced appeared on stage in December 1904! It was followed by Sherlock Holmes in which 14-year-old Charlie Chaplin made his debut.
After the death of Frohman together with the other crew members of the Lusitania during the Great War, The Duke of York's became the home for Opera, Ballet and Dance companies. In 1979, the building was bought by Capital Radio who closed it for refurbishment. The results were stunning and it reopened in 1980 with restored cream and gold decoration recreating the warm atmosphere of the theatre. Since it has house successful productions such as Rose, American Buffalo starring Al Pacino, The Weir, Stones In His Pockets, Rock'n'Roll, Rent and No Man's Land...