Music Hall has always been an integral part of British society in one form or another. Before it got its official title in the mid 1800s, there were early forbears of the entertainment in the Elizabethan ‘singing rooms’ and the pleasure gardens of the 1700s.
The popularity of these gardens began to decline in the early 19th Century and the entertainers began appearing in ‘song and supper’ rooms, normally attached to taverns. Music Hall reached its heyday between 1890-1912 by which time many of the performers had engraved themselves indelibly on the hearts of their audience; Albert Chevalier, Dan Leno, Little Tich, Marie Lloyd, Vesta Tilley, George Robey and Harry Lauder to name but a few.
The Players’ Theatre Club itself was founded in 1936 by Leonard Sachs and Peter Ridgeway with premises at 43 King St, Covent Garden. It was a tremendous success and quickly established itself as ‘the most original entertainment in London’ lauded by critics and the public alike.
Since then the club has had several homes including The Duchess Theatre and, of course, ‘Underneath the Arches’ of Charing Cross, from which, it was forced to move in 2002 and has been a homeless entity from that day.
However, the strength of affection and loyalty displayed by both members and artistes alike kept the spirit of the club alive with sell-out performances at theatres across the capital.
By early 2008, the company had regained enough momentum to return, in full glory, to the West End Stage and a much-loved former home: The Duchess Theatre; and now at The Charing Cross Threatre, The Arches, Villiers Street, formerly The New Players’ Theatre.
With the incorporation of the ‘Players’ Music Hall Company’ in February 2008, British Music Hall finally has a pioneer for the 21st Century.