Designed by architect Walker Emden, the Duke of York’s Theatre opened on 10th September 1892 and is a Grade II listed building.
Originally given the name the Trafalgar Square theatre, the venue became the Trafalgar Theatre in the mid 1800s. Then, a year later in 1865, it was renamed the Duke of York’s after the future King, George V.
The theatre originally seated 900 people over four levels but its capacity has been reduced to 640 and the fourth level removed. In 1979 a dramatic refurbishment was undertaken with the express aim of cutting the number of pillars holding up the royal and upper circles.
Some of the most notable productions at the Duke of York’s Theatre include a hugely successful run of Richard Harris's play Stepping Out, which ran for just over three years. And Willy Russell, the creator of the famous musical Blood Brothers, housed his production of Shirley Valentine here, which went on to enjoy a run of over two years.
Since 1992 the theatre has been under the management of the Ambassador Theatre Group, seeing a slew of successful productions including Death and the Maiden and the Rocky Horror Show. Between October 1995 and March 1996 the Royal Court theatre presented a season of work at the Duke of York’s, presenting Ron Hutchinson's Rat in the Skull, Terry Johnson's Hysteria and David Storey's The Changing Room, a season christened 'Royal Court Classics'.
The theatre then staged a revival of the Andrew Lloyd Webber / Alan Ayckbourn musical By Jeeves, originally dating to 1975 but virtually rewritten. It opened on 2nd July 1996 and closed on 28th September the same year, when it transferred to the Lyric Theatre.
After this the theatre was taken over by The Royal Court again, but this time for four years while their own home in Sloane Square was given a make-over. During this period it was renamed The Royal Court Theatre Downstairs.
In August 2000, the comedy smash-hit Stones in his Pockets transferred from the New Ambassadors theatre. The most recent shows at the venue include Ghost Stories, Journey’s End, Backbeat and Passion Play.