From stomping musicals to world class plays and experimental stage productions, London’s theatre scene has it all. Even if you’re a seasoned theatre-goer, you won’t be able to help falling in love with the theatre all over again.
Find out more about London’s iconic Theatreland district and what productions we are most looking forward to this summer in our latest blog post…
London’s best theatre venues
London arguably has the world’s most exciting, cutting edge and diverse theatre scene. Most of the action is concentrated in its ‘Theatreland’. This theatre district contains close to 40 different venues in the West End and roughly occupies the space between the Strand to the south, Oxford Street to the north, Regent Street to the west and Kingsway to the east.
These are just some of the places you might like to visit:
• The Apollo Victoria Theatre
The Apollo Victoria Theatre is the premier venue for popular musicals like Wicked and is famed for its Art Deco interior with original details like decorated scallop shells and chrome trimmings. When it first opened in 1930, the Gaumont British News poetically described its nautical themed décor as ‘a mermaid’s dream of heaven’.
• Shakespeare’s Globe
The Globe Theatre, set up by the Royal Shakespeare Company, was one of the first theatres to crop up in post-reformation London in the late 16th century. The original Globe theatre where Shakespeare and his troupe of actors performed his play burned down mid-performance in 1613, but has been faithfully restored to recreate the exact conditions that the Elizabethans would have appreciated his works in.
Seeing Shakespeare’s classics here, from Romeo and Juliet to Hamlet is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
• The Old Vic
Founded in 1818, the Old Vic has been through something of a revival since Kevin Spacey took up the reigns as its artistic director. It regularly features hard-hitting plays with stellar cast members from all over the world.
The atmospheric Old Vic Tunnels underneath the building have also been turned into an alternative venue for installations and productions, and has proved to be very popular with open-minded theatre fans.
• The National Theatre
The National Theatre is one of the world’s leading producers of quality live entertainment. 20 performances take place at this venue every year, many of which are broadcast live to cinemas around the world.
But there is nothing like seeing a play unfold right in front of your eyes and soaking up the unique atmosphere created by the cast and audience, so why not take the opportunity to book tickets to a show here?
• Soho Theatre
This theatre in the lively Soho district is always buzzing with new operas, plays, pantomimes, musicals and cabaret shows. Unlike some of the larger theatres, it takes chances on less established (but very promising) new writers and tends to feature more provocative works.
Shows to book now
• Doktar Glas 16 April-11 May 2013
Krister Henriksson, who you will probably recognize as TV detective Wallander, makes his West End debut this summer in this tale of a 19th century physician who finds himself torn between his morals and love for a young woman in need of his help. The play’s run in Sweden received rave reviews, so this is definitely one to catch.
• Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (18 May – 30 November 2013)
Roald Dahl’s much-loved story Charlie and the Chocolate Factory comes to the stage on a lavish, large scale this summer in this production, which is directed by Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes. We predict you’ll leave smiling and craving chocolate after seeing this.
• Table (9 April – 18 May)
Table tells the story of belonging, identity and love through nine actors playing thirty different parts in what promises to be one of the highlights of the year.
• The Audience (now until 15 June)
Helen Mirren vowed never to reprise her role as the Queen, but was persuaded on the strength of Peter Morgan’s script. This play narrows in on the fascinating private meetings the Queen has with Britain’s prime ministers. The meetings are shrouded in mystery: neither party is allowed to repeat what is discussed, even to their husband or wife.
• Long-running shows
Then there are the shows which have been running almost non-stop for years because they are so timelessly popular, such as Les Miserables, Cats and Mamma Mia!
The play that our guests always come back raving about is Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, which is the longest-running show in the world. Audience members are reminded to keep the ending a secret after the curtain falls, and they have dutifully done so since 1952.
Open air theatre at Regents Park
Taking some of the best loved plays out of stuffy theatres and bringing them out into the open in the wonderful setting of Regents Park was a stroke of genius by the organisers of the award-winning Open Air Theatre festival.
You’ll be able to bask in the warm summer air while enjoying a picnic (prepared on-site) and a glass of Pimms as fairy lights strewn around the trees twinkle. And all while watching one of these famous productions:
• To Kill a Mockingbird (16 May – 15 June)
• Pride and Prejudice (20 June – 20 July)
• The Winter’s Tale (29 June – 20 July)
• The Sound of Music (25 July – 7 September)
You are spoiled for choice when it comes to eating and drinking near London’s theatre district.
Veeraswamy on Regent Street is London’s oldest surviving curry restaurant and their Indian dishes are a cut above the rest. For an expertly made, classic cocktail, we send guests to the legendary Freud bar on Shaftesbury Avenue.
The Cumberland hotel is a stone’s throw away from the theatre district and has a special pre-theatre dinner offer perfect for hotel guests looking for a quick but delicious early evening meal before taking in London’s arts scene.
What shows are you most looking forward to catching during your stay in London?