In the 1870’s acclaimed novelist and essayist Henry James wrote a piece for American journal The Galaxy about London Theatre.
West End Theatre History
Going behind the curtain can be an eye-opening experience. The sheer scale of West End theatres such as Drury Lane, the National or the Royal Opera House is hugely impressive and a backstage tour is a great opportunity to see the hidden world of costume departments, scene-building and technical magic.
The V&A museum’s Theatre & Performance section has released a useful document on how to go about researching theatre.
On this day in… 1930 the Apollo Victoria Theatre opened in London
A list of the top 10 longest-running shows in the West End, including the Top 10 longest-running shows currently playing in the West End and the Top 20 longest-running London Theatre shows ever.
History of the Trafalgar Studios Theatre in London – currently home to East is East – including designer and first production.
History of the Phoenix Theatre in London – currently home to ONCE The Musical – including designer and first production.
An interview with Jamie Lloyd about his production of Richard III at the Trafalgar Studios
An interview with John Tiffany about his production of Let The Right One In.
Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman interviews Sir John Gielgud at 95, on the stage of the Old Vic Theatre in 2005.
History of the Cambridge Theatre in London – currently home to Matilda The Musical – including designer and first production.
History of the Lyceum Theatre in London – currently home to The Lion King – including designer and first production.
On this day in… 1821
the Theatre Royal Haymarket opened in London
On this day in… 1960 The PeacockTheatre opened
On this day in… 1913 The Ambassadors Theatre opened in London
Video lectures about London Theatre history, past and present from Gresham College.
Fascinating facts about the history of London Theatres
On this day in 1663… The Theatre Royal Drury Lane opened in London
Filmmaker Simon Smith has created a stunning movie, comparing footage from London in 1924 and London in 2014.
Shows performed on the London stage in 2010
Shows performed on the London stage in 2009
Shows performed on the London stage in 2008
Shows performed on the London stage in 2007
Shows performed on the London stage in 2006
Shows performed on the London stage in 2005
Shows performed on the London stage in 2004
An extract from J.B. Priestley’s book Theatre Outlook, written in 1946 and published in 1947.
On this day in 1958… My Fair Lady opened at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane
On this day in… 1889, the Garrick Theatre opened in London
On this day in… 1877 The first human cannonball act in the world was performed in London. There has got to be a first for everything – and that includes human cannonballs! The first ever recorded human cannonball took place at the Royal Aquarium in London on 10 April 1877. A 14 year old called Rossa Matilda Richter (with a stage name of Zazel) was shot out of a cannon at the enormous venue in Westminster. It did her career no end of good because she went on to tour with Barnum’s circus. The spring-style cannon (as opposed to a …
On this day in… 1705 Her Majesty’s Theatre opened in London. The first Her Majesty’s Theatre opened as the Queen’s Theatre on 9 April 1705. The Phantom of the Opera is now at the fourth theatre on this site. The first theatre on the site opened on 9 April 1705 as the Queen’s Theatre, which was then renamed the King’s Theatre in 1714, but sadly burnt down on 17 June 1789. The second theatre opened on 26 March 1791 as the King’s Theatre, which was renamed to His Majesty’s Theatre, Italian Opera House in 1837, and again renamed to His …
State of Play: UK Theatre, new audience research from Ticketmaster
There are literally hundreds of free books available to download in Amazon’s Kindle book store, including a wealth of classic drama and plays.
London theatre and performance useful links
British playwright Noël Coward’s plays and musicals are in continuous production around the world, including Thea Sharrock’s current West End revival of Blithe Spirit at the Apollo Theatre, starring Alison Steadman.
Here, journalist and author Clive Hirschhorn remembers a meeting with the ‘Master’ in the 1960’s, an immodest encounter in which the man offered an opinion on just about everything.
Maggie B Gale’s excellent book West End Women: Women and the London stage 1918 – 1962 reveals the vital place of women playwrights within West End theatre history.
Table listing plays by women on the London stage from 1917 to 1960. Taken from West End Women: Women and the London stage 1918 – 1962 by Maggie B Gale.
Table listing plays by women on the London stage from 1917 – 1929. Taken from West End Women: Women and the London stage 1918 – 1962 by Maggie B Gale.
Table listing plays by women on the London stage from 1930 – 1939. Taken from West End Women: Women and the London stage 1918 – 1962 by Maggie B Gale.
Table listing plays by women on the London stage from 1940 – 1949. Taken from West End Women: Women and the London stage 1918 – 1962 by Maggie B Gale.
Table listing plays by women on the London stage from 1950 – 1960. Taken from West End Women: Women and the London stage 1918 – 1962 by Maggie B Gale.
The history of the Apollo Victoria Theatre in London
A look behind the scenes of the Apollo Victoria theatre
Applause Magazine – October 1996: Disney’s Beauty And The Beast, Heathcliff, Cliff Richard, Ned Sherrin, Gene Wilder, Globe Theatre, Alan Ayckbourn, Kurt Weill, Lotte Lenya, Ken Livingstone
Applause Magazine – March 1997: Maria Friedman, Lady In The Dark, Christopher Biggins, Ned Sherrin, Bill Kenwright, Richard Nelson, Constance Cummings, Neil Simon, Ruaidhri Conroy, The Cripple Of Inishmaan, Gerald Kaufman
Applause Magazine – May 1997: Disney’s Beauty And The Beast, Julie-Alanah Brighten, John Barrowman, Simon McBurney, Theatre De Complicite, Christopher Biggins, Terrence Mcnally, Master Class, Beach Blanket Babylon, Ibsen, Peggy Ashcroft, John Napier and Roy Hattersley
Applause Magazine – August 1997: Dominic West, Ned Sherrin, Thelma Holt, Clare Rayner, Kathleen Turner, Jubilee, Julie Wilson, Alan Bates, Martin McDonagh
Applause Magazine – September 1997: Zoe Wanamaker, Simon Russell Beale, Noel Coward, Andre Lewis of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Adam Long
Applause Magazine – July 1996: Margarita Pracatan, Ned Sherrin, Kevin Whately, English National Ballet, Alice In Wonderland, Larry Adler, Christopher Lloyd, Lyceum Theatre, Googie Withers, Hannah Gordon
A snapshot of what was playing in the West End in September 1994, including Sunset Boulevard, Crazy for You, Copacabana, Design for Living starring Clive Owen, Imogen Stubbs in Saint Joan and Ruthie Henshall in She Loves Me
West End theatres celebrate important anniversaries this year.
Hugh Beaumont, famously known as Binkie Beaumont, was one of the most powerful West End theatre managers in his, or any other, generation.