In 1870, catering company Spiers and Pond, developed the site of the White Bear Inn, a 17th Century posting inn on a site then known as Regent Circus, at a cost of some £100,000.
A competition was held to find the right design and out of fifteen entries, that of Thomas Verity was chosen. Building commenced and when the frameworks had been completed it was decided to alter the proposed concert hall into a theatre with Verity to design it. Only the main entrance and foyer would be on ground level in Piccadilly Circus, the rest would be below ground, even having to go downstairs to the Upper Circle.
Our very first ‘First Night’ was on March 21st 1874 with a programme including HJ Byron’s An American Lady and Topseyturveydom, a piece by W S Gilbert.
Following extensive redevelopment of the whole Criterion site on Piccadilly Circus in the late 80's and early 90's, The Criterion Theatre Trust took on the theatre lease with performances by Ennio Marchetto commencing on the 10th October 1992