Mischief Theatre timeline: How the company became one of the leading players in theatrical comedy
If you think of comedy plays currently running in the West End, both The Play That Goes Wrong and Magic Goes Wrong will probably come to mind. Mischief Theatre, a British comedy acting troupe that have transformed the West End scene, is the mastermind behind these West End hits. They’re not just one trick ponies though — their improvisational shows and TV series have garnered critical acclaim. They’ve taken over Broadway and Off-Broadway too, cementing themselves as one of the leading comedy troupes.
The Play That Goes Wrong is Mischief Theatre’s smash-hit play. Since the first performance in 2012, the cautionary tales of the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society have entertained millions of theatregoers worldwide. But Mischief Theatre have had five West End plays and a Broadway hit too. Take a look at the rising career of Mischief Theatre in London and on Broadway.
2008: Mischief Theatre is founded
Henry Shields, Henry Lewis, and Jonathan Sayer create Mischief Theatre during their drama foundation course at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
Shortly after Mischief Theatre is founded, the group perform their first show. The improvisational show Let’s See What Happens runs at the Questers Theatre in Ealing for one week, before moving to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe later that summer.
2009: Lights! Camera Improvise! in London
Mischief Theatre return to the stage with Lights! Camera! Improvise! at the Canal Cafe Theatre in July. Lights! Camera! Improvise! is an improvisational show inspired by films. A month after, they head to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with Lights! Camera! Improvise!
2012: Mischief Theatre present their first play
Mischief Theatre’s first play, The Play That Goes Wrong, premieres at the Old Red Lion Theatre in London on 4 December. The Old Red Lion Theatre has a seating capacity of 60. Did you know that The Play That Goes Wrong was originally titled The Murder Before Christmas?
2013: The Play That Goes Wrong moves to central London
The Play That Goes Wrong moves to Trafalgar Studios, with performances from 30 April – 1 June. After a successful first run, The Play That Goes Wrong returns to Trafalgar Studios for a further three weeks, from 2 – 20 July.
2013: Peter Pan Goes Wrong premiere
The Christmas play Peter Pan Goes Wrong premieres at Pleasance Theatre on 10 December. The production then toured the UK the following year.
2014: The Play That Goes Wrong opens in the West End
Mischief Theatre makes their West End debut with The Play That Goes Wrong, moving to the Duchess Theatre. Previews began on 5 September, with an opening night on 14 September.
2015: Mischief Theatre win their first Olivier Award
The Play That Goes Wrong wins Best New Comedy at the 2015 Olivier Awards. The other two shows in their category were Handbagged by Moira Buffini and Shakespeare in Love by Marc Norman, Tom Stoppard, and Lee Hall.
2015: Peter Pan Goes Wrong in the West End
After a national tour, Peter Pan Goes Wrong transfers to the Apollo Theatre. Peter Pan Goes Wrong is the second Mischief Theatre play to open in the West End. Peter Pan Goes Wrong performances run from 4 Dec. 2015 to 26 Feb. 2016.
2016: The Comedy About a Bank Robbery opens in the West End
A new Mischief Theatre play, The Comedy About a Bank Robbery opens at the Criterion Theatre. The Comedy About a Bank Robbery begins previews on 31 March and has an opening night on 21 April. The play was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best New Comedy. The Comedy About a Bank Robbery closed at the Criterion Theatre on 15 Mar. 2020.
2016: Peter Pan Goes Wrong returns
Peter Pan Goes Wrong returns for a second West End Christmas season. Performances are at the Apollo Theatre from 21 October to 29 Jan. 2017.
2016: Peter Pan Goes Wrong on TV
Peter Pan Goes Wrong is the first Mischief Theatre play to be adapted for TV. Peter Pan Goes Wrong is broadcast on BBC One on New Year’s Eve.
2017: Mischief Movie Night opens in the West End
The company return to improvisational shows. Mischief Movie Night runs at the Arts Theatre from 13 December to 27 Jan. 2017.
2017: The Play That Goes Wrong opens on Broadway
The Play That Goes Wrong opens on Broadway, a Stateside debut for Mischief Theatre. Previews began at the Lyceum Theatre on 9 March, with an official opening on 2 April. The production featured the original London cast, and ran for 772 performances closing on 6 Jan. 2019.
2017: A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong premieres on TV
Inspired by the festive Charles Dickens story, A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong airs on BBC One on 30 December.
2019: The Play That Goes Wrong opens off Broadway at New World Stages
After the Broadway run, The Play That Goes Wrong transfers to an Off-Broadway location. Performances begin at New World Stages on 11 February.
2019: Mischief Theatre’s Groan Ups begins West End residency at Vaudeville Theatre
Mischief Theatre begin their year-long residency at the Vaudeville Theatre with Groan Ups. Groan Ups runs from 20 September – 1 December.
2019: Magic Goes Wrong at Vaudeville Theatre
The second play in the year-long residency, Magic Goes Wrong opens at Vaudeville Theatre. Magic Goes Wrong begins performances on 14 December. The pandemic shuts down performances in March 2020, and the third and final production in the season is never revealed.
2019: The Goes Wrong Show airs on BBC
A television series, The Goes Wrong Show is commissioned by BBC. The first episode airs on 23 Dec. 2019. A second season is commissioned, airing from 27 Sept. 2021.
2020: Mischief Theatre podcast
At the start of the pandemic, Mischief Theatre begins the podcast ‘Mischief Makers’ which focuses on the original Mischief Theatre members.
2020: The Goes Wrong Show: The Nativity airs on BBC One
Mischief Theatre work on a Christmas special based on the Nativity story. The Goes Wrong Show: The Nativity airs as a Christmas special on BBC One on 22 December.
2021: Magic Goes Wrong returns to the West End
Magic Goes Wrong transfers to the Apollo Theatre, with performances from 21 October – 27 Feb. 2022.