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London's Dress Circle music store enters its final fortnight after 35 years trading.

The iconic theatre store situated on Monmouth Street in Covent Garden opened its doors in 1977 and has billed itself as 'the longest-running showbusiness and musical theatre shop in the world'.   The unique store holds a fond place in many a theatrelover's heart with its extensive range of musical soundtracks and other theatre and cabaret parapernalia such as Libretti sheet music, DVDs and official show merchandise.

The increase in popularity of downloads has had a drastic effect on stores selling physical CDs.  In the last few years almost all of the bigger music chains have either drastically reduced their number of oulets or had to close down completely, with Our Price, Virgin and Tower Records all high profile victims.  The largest remaining retailer for music cds HMV is still struggling, with cd singles for example now either scarcely to be found or completely removed from its shelves.

Smaller outlets such as the Dress Circle store have seen a dramatic downturn in customers seeking out physical copies of their music.   A statement on Dress Circle's website reads:  "Over the past months we have tried in vain to negotiate with our landlord to move our shop into smaller and more cost effective premises. The cost of keeping Dress Circle open in the current location is too high, and it has become apparent that we will not be able to dispose of our current lease. The downturn in the economy has also taken its toll on us, as well as the ever changing way that people are buying music. With CDs becoming relics and downloads being more popular, Dress Circle, the shop, has struggled to keep up for a long time and we have reached the point that we are no longer able to continue."

The soundtrack to a musical is so important that it's hard to think of the greatest shows without their hit songs popping in your head - Singin' In The Rain, Phantom Of The Opera, Starlight Express, Les MiserablesCabaret...the list goes on.   Having the cd soundtrack as a keepsake is part of the whole theatrical experience.   The expert knowledge of the staff at the London store has also introduced thousands of people over the years to little-known shows they might not have heard before, or helped them track down a show or performer they didn't know the name of.

The store had hoped that an increase in tourists over the Olympic Games period might lead to an increase in sales, but they say that footfall in their area has unfortunately noticeably decreased instead.  The Monmouth Street shop will close its doors on August 15th though they will continue to sell merchandise through their website,

Book tickets for Singin' In The Rain here


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