The Harold Pinter Theatre, known as the Comedy Theatre until 2011, is a West End theatre, and opened on Panton Street in the City of Westminster, on 15 October 1881, as the Royal Comedy Theatre. It was designed by Thomas Verity and built in just six months in painted (stucco) stone and brick. By 1884 it was known as simply the Comedy Theatre. In the mid-1950s the theatre underwent major reconstruction and re-opened in December 1955; the auditorium remains essentially that of 1881, with three tiers of horseshoe-shaped balconies.
The streets between Leicester Square and the Haymarket had been of insalubrious reputation until shortly before the construction of the Comedy Theatre, but by 1881 the "doubtful resorts of the roisterers" had been removed. J. H. Addison held a plot of ground in Panton Street at the corner of Oxenden Street, for which he commissioned the architect Thomas Verity to design a theatre. The builders were Kirk and Randall of Woolwich. The original seating capacity was 1,186, comprising 140 stalls, 120 dress circle, 126 upper boxes, amphitheatre 100, pit 400 and gallery 300. the construction was completed in six months.
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