Opera Scotland

Playhouse Theatre, Edinburgh Edinburgh

“The Edinburgh Playhouse has had a colourful history. Designed by Glasgow architect, John Fairweather as a variety theatre, it was largely modelled on the Roxy Theatre in New York, but caught up in the new craze sweeping the country, it opened as a cinema on August 12th 1929 with the ‘talkie’ The Doctor’s Secret. Owned by the MacGuire family, it remained a cinema for 40 years until it fell victim to the cinema slump in 1973.

Tender for demolition were invited by advertisement, and a ‘Save the Playhouse’ group was set up, who collected 15,000 signatures against the closure. In 1974 the Playhouse was given listed building status. Then, in 1975 the ‘Edinburgh Playhouse Society’ was formed, a second petition brought a further 13,500 signatures, helping tremendously in saving the building that stands here today.

Over the next 12 years the theatre changed hands 5 times! Until Apollo Leisure took over ownership in December 1985. In 1993 a major refurbishment was undertaken, and The Edinburgh Playhouse was returned to its former glory, soon becoming one of the most successful theatres in Britain.”

- from the Playhouse website

After years if not decades of sustained criticism of the King’s Theatre, the sheer potential offered by the Playhouse must have seemed really exciting. With an impressive official seating capacity of 2900, it offers audience-building opportunities that dwarf those of the Royal Lyceum (658); the King’s (1200); or even the modern day Festival Theatre (1915) all currently serving different market niches within Edinburgh.

In the late 1970s the Playhouse was restored for theatrical use after energetic local campaigning. For some years from 1980 onwards, opera seasons were presented there by Scottish Opera and visiting companies at the Edinburgh Festival.

Since 1994 main stage opera and dance in Edinburgh have mainly been presented at the City-owned Festival Theatre, which offers fewer seats but a larger performance area.

Contact Details


18-22 Greenside Place



0131 524 3333

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