Designed by a pair of architects, Walter Emden and C. J. Phipps, the Garrick opened on 24th April 1889 and is a Grade II listed building. The theatre is named after the esteemed Shakespearean actor David Garrick, a legend of the London stage.
The main theatre designer was Walter Emden, but C. J. Phipps was brought in to help with the structural difficulties of building on a site that was also the home of an underground river. The theatre originally had a fourth level above the upper circle, but this has since been removed. In 1986, stage designer Carl Toms was shipped in to restore the beautiful gold leaf in the auditorium. Then in 1997, the building’s façade was given a make-over.
The first person to manage the venue was playwright W.S Gilbert, half of the famous operetta-writing duo Gilbert and Sullivan. And the first production was Arthur Wing Pinero’s The Profligate, with subsequent plays including the comedy A Pair Of Spectacles. Other notable productions in the 20th century were J. M. Barrie’s The Wedding Guest, Rutland Barrington’s Water Babies and Gilbert’s own Harlequin and The Fairy’s Dilemma.
The Garrick is known mostly for productions of hit comedies and comedy-dramas. Some notable examples of these productions include the 1982 transfer from the Strand Theatre of the hilarious farce No Sex Please We’re British, which went on to transfer again to the Duchess theatre in August 1986.
The National theatre’s acclaimed 1995 production of J. B. Priestly’s An Inspector Calls transferred to the Garrick after a hugely successful run at the NT’s Lyttelton and Olivier theatres, following a run at the Aldwych theatre and a season on Broadway.
Today, the Garrick is part of the Nimax group of major London theatres. Recent productions have included The Little Dog Laughed, All the Fun of the Fair, The Hurly Burly Show, Pygmalion, Chicago and Rock of Ages.