I haven't been in the Carré since it was reopened after a major overhaul in 2004-05. Built as a permanent circus, it is the place to go and see musicals and big shows. Some of the tiered seating on the upper levels is terribly steep - not good if you have vertigo!
The historical stuff:
The Koninklijk (Royal) Theatre Carré, named after its founder Oscar Carré (1845-1911) was built to house his circus in 1887 on some 1450 piles driven into the soft ground on the banks of the Amstel river. It only took nine months to complete, earning the building the nickname 'the wonder of the Amstel'.
Oscar Carré came from a family of circus performers who travelled all over Europe. In Amsterdam he had a wooden building on the Amstelveld but had to abandon the building because of fire regulations. After five years of quarreling the council agreed to support his circus financially if he agreed to erect a stone building.
The empty space on the Amstel where the Rasphuismolen (mill) once stood caught his eye. At the end of the 19th century the Plantage Parklaan and Plantage Middelaan was an area devoted to entertainment. The Palais voor Volksvlijt exhibition centre and concert hall was also situated close by on the Frederiksplein. Carré had found the perfect spot.
As well as the circus ring Carré included a small stage in the complex which would be used for variety shows. The theatre has no house company and the circus/theatre arrangement has continued to this day, although the stage has been enlarged in order to put on larger productions like musicals. In 1982 a modern foyer was added on, annexing a garden next to the building. The council were opposed to the plans because it involved cutting down an old pear tree. The council finally gave in, sensitive among other things to a British regulation which laid down how many square metres were necessary for a theatre capable of seating 2,000 people.
On its 100th anniversary in 1987 the Carré was granted permission once more to call itself Koninklijk or royal, something it had been allowed to do until Carré's death because of his friendship with King Willem III.