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11 of the best theatre Guinness World Records

From Shakespeare marathons to the smallest theatre in the world, we've collated some of the very best stagey world records

Starlight Express
© Best Picture

Let's get some records charted!


Longest theatre performance (individual)

Adrian Hilton, 110 hours, 46 minutes

Adrian Hilton broke this record in July 1987 by reciting the complete works of Shakespeare. During the 'Bardathon', which lasted four and a half days, Hilton's visitors included Prince Phillip, Richard Griffiths and Zoe Wanamaker. He chose to break the record on London's South Bank at the location of the original Globe Theatre. The actor went on to stand for election in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1997, and currently works at the Department of Education at Oxford University.



© Sharpe Academy of Theatre Arts

Fastest theatrical production

Grupo de teatro Albatros, 11 hours

Beating out the previous record holders by a full four hours (or one complete Hamlet) are the Spanish team composed of Daniel Lorenzo Sarmiento and Grupo de teatro Albatros. Starting at 8.15 and performing 11 hours later, this one is pretty cracking.


Longest marathon theatre performance (team)

Lamb's Players Theater (USA), 76 hours, 18 minutes 25 seconds

Based in California, Lamb's Players Theater broke this record during their 100 Hours of Stories, which included performances from over 50 plays and musicals from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat to An Inspector Calls . By official rules, there must be at least 20 registered audience members at any one time for the record to be broken, which may be the reason why the record stands at 76 hours rather than 100. Nonetheless, this was still a three-and-a-half day mega-marathon of theatre, and it raised over $175,000.



© Dun.can/Flickr

First theatre named after an actor

Garrick Theatre

David Garrick was a bit of a legend. Actor, playwright and theatre manager, Garrick was renowned for his work at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. When he died, he was given a public funeral at Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey, alongside the likes of CS Lewis, Oscar Wilde and William Wordsworth. The Garrick theatre on Charing Cross Road was built and named after him in 1889, making it the first theatre in the world named after an actor.


Largest simultaneous performance of one show in multiple locations

Stagecoach Theatre Arts, 73 performances

Stagecoach theatre schools across the UK, US, Canada and Germany beat their own record by an extra 7 shows with a production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast.


Photo courtesy of Paul Kieve

Most costume changes demanded by a lead theatrical role

Paul Kieve, 29 costume changes

Kieve is an an illusionist and magic special effects designer who currently holds two world records. One of which is for most costume changes in a lead role; he designed the quick-change costumes and illusions for actor Michael Jibson's 29 changes in Our House at the Cambridge Theatre in 2002. The quickest was just four seconds! Kieve has also worked with Derren Brown, and was part of Tim Minchin's team on Matilda and Groundhog Day.



© Photo courtesy of Stage West Dinner Theatre

Most prolific theatre producer

Howard Pechet, 485 productions

Howard Pechet is a Canadian hotelier who holds the current record for most prolific theatre producer. He worked on 485 productions across 10 theatre restaurant venues between January 1975 and July 2008. Dinner and a show, what more could you want? He is still producing work today, with a production of Drinking Habits currently running in Calgary.


Starlight Express
© Best Picture

Most visitors to a musical in a single theatre

Starlight Express, 13,044,148 people (and counting)

Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical about a child's train set that comes to life has its own special home in Germany. Das Starlight Express Theater in Bochum has been running for almost 29 years, just showing Starlight Express in German. However, in a special one-off this year, the production was performed in English for the first time. The number above is the official number in the record books, but latest estimates are that it has been seen by over a whopping 16 million people.


Oldest actress

Jeanne Louise Calment, 114 years old

Jeanne Louise Calment is incredible. Not only was she named the oldest actress after her appearance in the 1990 film Vincent and Me - a film about a girl who travels through time to meet Van Gogh - she also holds the record for oldest person ever. She lived until she was 122, was born 14 years before the Eiffel Tower was built, and is thought to be one of the last living people (at the time) to know Van Gogh after she sold the painter canvasses in her father's shop. She took up fencing as a hobby when she was 85, ate a kilo of chocolate every week and smoked from the age of 21 to 117, and passed away in 1997. Google her. Now.



© Photo by Theaterarbeit

Smallest regularly operated theatre

Kremlhoftheater, Austria, 8 seats

There's intimate, and then there's the Kremlhoftheater. It opened in 2008 with a teeny tiny 8 seat capacity, and has regularly performing shows since 2010. The stage is only 1.3m by 1.3m, and guests do not pay for tickets nor are donations accepted. So if you're looking for a new use for the garden shed...


Longest time in the same production (West End performance)

Philip Griffiths, Monsieur Reyer/Auctioneer in The Phantom of the Opera

In 2016 it was verified that Griffiths had been taking on the role of the auctioneer for over a quarter of a century! We're sold!

All information correct as of 4 September, and according to the official Guinness World Records website.

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