The St James's Theatre was in King Street, St James's, London. It opened in 1835 and was demolished in 1957. The theatre was conceived by and built for a popular singer, John Braham; it lost money and after three seasons he retired. A succession of managements over the next forty years also failed to make it a commercial success, and the St James's acquired a reputation as an unlucky theatre. It was not until 1879–1888, under the management of the actors John Hare and Madge and W. H. Kendal that the theatre began to prosper.
The Hare-Kendal management was succeeded, after brief and disastrous attempts by other lessees, by that of the actor-manager George Alexander, who was in charge from 1891 until his death in 1918. Under Alexander the house gained a reputation for programming that was adventurous without going too far for the tastes of London society. Among the plays he presented were Oscar Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan (1892) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), and A. W. Pinero's The Second Mrs Tanqueray (1893).
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