The Prince of Wales Theatre is a West End theatre in Coventry Street, near Leicester Square in the City of Westminster. It was established in 1884 and rebuilt in 1937, and extensively refurbished in 2004 by Sir Cameron Mackintosh, its current owner. The theatre should not be confused with the former Scala Theatre in Charlotte Street, off Tottenham Court Road that was known as the Prince of Wales Royal Theatre or Prince of Wales's Theatre from 1865 until its demolition in 1903.
The first theatre on the site opened in January 1884 when C.J. Phipps built the Prince's Theatre for actor-manager Edgar Bruce. It was a traditional three-tier theatre, seating just over 1,000 people. The theatre was renamed the "Prince of Wales Theatre" in 1886 after the future Edward VII. Located between Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square, the theatre was favourably situated to attract theatregoers.
After 50 years, the theatre's 800 seats were deemed insufficient for productions of the day, and it was demolished. On 17 June 1937, Gracie Fields sang to the workmen as she laid the foundation stone of the new Art Deco-decorated theatre, designed by Robert Cromie, and the theatre opened on 27 October that year. The new theatre's seating capacity was about 1,100, and it had a larger stage and improved facilities for both the artists and the public, including a large, stylish stalls bar (the bar itself was 14 metres long), complete with dance floor. The first productions at the new theatre were Les Folies de Paris et Londres, starring George Robey, followed by Folies De Can-Can in 1938, a continuation of the old theatre's series of successful risqué revues, which ran continuously until 2am every night. The musical comedy, Present Arms, was offered in 1940, and in 1941 the theatre screened the UK premiere of Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator. The film had been banned in many parts of Europe, and the theatre's owner, Alfred Esdaile, was fined for showing it.
The theatre was grade II listed by English Heritage in April 1999. It is one of the 40 theatres featured in the 2012 DVD documentary series Great West End Theatres, presented by Donald Sinden.