- March 28, 2018
- Parisian theatre
- Amanda Mehtala
A peek inside the story of how this celebrated Parisian playhouse came to be, how the Edouard VII Theatre got its namesake, and the famous faces that haunt its halls!
In the ninth arrondissement of Paris, you're just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the world-renowned Palais Garnier Opera House, which was built in the beautiful Beaux-Arts architectural style. This is one of Paris' most well-known shopping districts, especially the Boulevard Haussmann nearby that is one of the best examples of a wide, beautiful boulevard for which the whole city is known. Even if you're not planning on buying anything, it’s worth it just to walk inside the Galeries Lafayette Haussmann, just around the corner from the Opera House, to see the stunning glass roof. But after a bit of shopping, you have to leave the noise and bustling main road to enter the little stone square that houses the Théâtre Edouard VII, along with a statue of King Edward VII himself, and a collection of hotels and restaurants. This Parisian playhouse is the definition of hidden-in-plain-sight, right in the hears of the Paris theatre district yet often going unnoticed. Once inside the playhouse, you will find that it not only has a delicious restaurant, but also boasts a swank English-style bar downstairs for a drink before or after the show.
It was actually from this very boulevard that the genre of Boulevard Comedies got its name, and the Édouard VII is one of the theatres where these types of plays first originated. There is a theatre at every corner on this stretch of road, even today! The heart of the Parisian theatre district, you could say it's like the Parisian equivalent of Broadway or the West End. The theatre was first run by actor, director, and playwright Sacha Guitry, and now the theatre’s restaurant, the Café Guitry, is now named after its former figurehead. He himself was married five times throughout his life, so it is no wonder that love and relationships are often the major themes of the modern comedies that pass through these doors.
Once you enter into the salle, you'll see that you're in a truly one-of-a-kind space. Typical French theatres are rectangular with open space from floor to ceiling and balconies stacked one on top of the other along the edges, but the Théâtre Édouard VII was in honor of English King Edward VII, so its architecture was built in the traditional English-style of theatre, or what the French like to call a théâtre à l’anglaise. This means that the balconies extend directly over the orchestra seating and the entire room has a horseshoe shape, rather than the French rectangular theatre. As an “English style theatre”, the Édouard VII has also traditionally been associated with English-speaking productions and a favorite of many famous American and British actors, writers, and directors, most notably Orson Welles directed and performed here, and his ghost is even said to still be haunting the halls!
The venue originally opened in 1913 and was often used as a cinema, showing films by Paramount Pictures. After a few years, it was turned into a theatre, and was at the time the most luxurious and chic venue in all of Paris. Today it has not lost a bit of its original charm. The venue is run by director, actor, and screenwriter Bernard Murat, who directed Hello My Name Is. Since starting with the theatre in 2001, he has worked to bring a diverse array of different productions to the Édouard VII stage, while still honoring its tradition of great comedy and its historical ties to the English language. With a capacity of just over 700 spectators, Édouard VII is what we would consider to be a medium-sized theatre. The best of both worlds, it's small enough to retain the intimate experience of Paris' hole-in-the-wall spots while large enough to afford to put on world-class productions. So what are you waiting for, visit this gorgeous venue today for a subtitled Parisian show!
Discover the stories of some of Paris’ other great theatres: