The Gaiety Theatre is a theatre on South King Street in Dublin, off Grafton Street and close to St. Stephen's Green. It specialises in operatic and musical productions, with occasional dramatic shows.
Designed by architect C.J. Phipps and built in under 7 months, the Gaiety was opened on 27 November 1871 with the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland as guest of honour and a double bill of the comedy She Stoops to Conquer and the burlesque La Belle Sauvage.
The Gaiety was extended by theatre architect Frank Matcham in 1883, and, despite several improvements to public spaces and stage changes, it retains its Victorian charm and remains Dublin's longest-established, continuously producing theatre.
Patrick Wall and Louis Elliman bought the theatre in 1936 and ran it for several decades with local actors and actresses. They sold it in 1965, and in the 1960s and the 1970s the theatre was run by Fred O'Donovan and the Eamonn Andrews Studios, until - in the 1980s - Joe Dowling (former Artistic Director of the Abbey Theatre) became Director of the Gaiety. In the 1990s Groundwork Productions took on the lease and the theatre was eventually bought by the Break for the Border Group. The Gaiety was purchased by music promotor Denis Desmond and his wife Caroline in the late 1990s, who undertook a refit of the theatre. The Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism also contributed to this restoration fund.
Performers and playwrights associated with the theatre have been celebrated with hand-prints cast in bronze and set in the pavement beneath the theatre canopy. These handprints include those of Luciano Pavarotti, Maureen Potter, Twink, John B Keane, Anna Manahan, Niall Toibin and Brian Friel.
The theatre played host to the 1971 Eurovision Song Contest, the first to be staged in Ireland, during the Gaiety's centenary year.
A nightclub is run every Friday and Saturday night in the Gaiety, with live bands on different floors, which is the latest-opening non-private members nightclub in the city.
The Gaiety is known for its annual Christmas pantomime and has hosted a pantomime every year - without interruption - since the mid 1850's. Actor and director Alan Stanford directed both Gaiety productions of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. The Musical Director for the past several shows has been Peter Beckett. Irish entertainer June Rodgers starred in the Gaiety pantomime for years, until she began to headline the equally established Olympia Theatre panto. The Gaiety shows have included notable Irish performers that appeal to home grown audiences, including many Fair City actors. Pantomimes in recent years have included versions of: Aladdin (2010), Jack and the Beanstalk (2009), Cinderella (2008), Beauty and the Beast (2007), and Mother Goose (2006).