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Top 10 Theatres

Top 10 Theatres

Top 10 Theatres in London

Theatre offers a sophisticated and gripping expression of basic human needs and ways of life. Theatres satisfy man’s natural instinct to project tales and create dramatic meaning through metaphors and narratives. London is endowed with some of the best theatres in Europe. We have included London’s finest theatres in this top 10 list, ranging from gilded music halls to ancient stages.

  1. Globe Theatre

    This theatre is an Elizabethan play house located on the southern bank of River Thames in the Borough of Southwark It is also known as the Shakespeare Globe Theatre. It was constructed in 1599 by Lord Chamberlain’s Men, the playing Company for Shakespeare at that time. The theatre was constructed of oak, deal and playhouse frames. However, it was damaged by fire in 1613 and was rebuilt the following year. It was co-owned by the famous playwright himself and was the venue where all the great plays of Shakespeare were performed. It has gone on to become one of the most popular and famous playhouses of all time. This triple storey theatre has a seating capacity of three thousand people.

  2. Palace Theatre

    This theatre is located at West End in Westminster. It has a façade of red bricks that dominates the western side of Cambridge Circus at the Shaftesbury Avenue intersection with Charing Cross Road. Palace Theatre has a seating capacity of one thousand four hundred. Richard D’Oyly Carte, the renowned producer of operas written by Gilbert and Sullivan had actually commissioned this theatre in the 1880s. Built by Thomas Collcutt as a home for English grand opera, it opened with the opera `Ivanhoe’ by Arthur Sullivan. In 1897, the theatre also started screening films as part of its entertainment program. The Marx Brothers appeared here in 1922 and performed various selections from their popular Broadway shows.

  3. The Old Vic

    This is a theatre that is located to the south east of Waterloo Station at the corner of Waterloo Road and The Cut. It was built in 1818 and was called the Royal Coburg Theatre. In 1833, it was renamed the Royal Victoria Theatre. It came to be known popularly as the `Old Vic’ in the eighteen eighties. It ran a series of Shakespeare’s plays in 1914. The building was badly damaged during the air raids in 1940. After it reopened in 1951, it was listed as a grade II building.

  4. Prince Edward Theatre

    The theatre was built by Edward Stone in 1930 and is located at the Old Compton Street in Soho. This site was the former home to a business enterprise called the `Emporium’ that dealt with draperies. Prince Edward Theatre was named after Prince Edward who was then the Prince of Wales and later became the Duke of Windsor. The opening event was the musical, `Rio Rita’. Other notable events that followed included the debut of Josephine Baker, the famous cabaret artiste with her `Bananas Dance’.

  5. Theatre Royal at Drury Lane

    Built in 1663, Theatre Royal at Drury Lane in Covent Garden has consistently offered mass entertainment to theatre goers. It faces the Bridges or Catherine Street and then backs on to Drury Lane. It is situated in a line of four other theatres that were built here. The theatre has a couple of royal boxes and is famous for being visited by almost every monarch since the Restoration period. It was here that the public came to hear the Rule Britannia and the National Anthem. Among the managers of this great theatre were David Garrick and Richard Sheridan, the famous playwright. It is one of the oldest theatre sites in London today, and was among the patent theatres that were issued monopoly rights to spoken plays in London.

  6. Royal National Theatre

    Founded in 1963, this is a performing arts venue that is publicly funded along with the Royal Opera House and the Royal Shakespeare Company. It is also popularly known across the world as the National Theatre of Great Britain. Until 1976, the Royal National Theatre Company was given its base at the Old Vic Theatre at Waterloo. Now, it is located in the South Bank region of central London, next to River Thames. The Royal National Theatre Company has regular tours and holds productions across the entire country.

  7. Adelphi Theatre

    This theatre is located on the Strand, in the West End of London. It has specialises in musicals and comedy. It is a receiving house today for various productions that include musicals. During its earlier years, it was popularly known for staging a melodrama that was called the `Adelphi Screamers’. The Adelphi was renovated in 1930 and opened to the public with re-modelled art decorations and interiors. It reopened with `Evergreen’ starring Jessie Matthews. Its front portion was restored to its original extravagance and luster. In 1993, Andrew Lloyd Webber became its co-owner and brought his production of `Sunset Boulevard’. Other famous productions here were Cole Porter’s `Nymph Errant’ with Gertrude Lawrence and the `Music Man’ with Van Johnson. The Adelphi is also famous for the Broadway production run of `Chicago’ by Kander and Ebb.

  8. Lyceum Theatre

    This is a West End theatre that has a seating capacity of two thousand one hundred. It is situated on Wellington Street off the Strand and dates back to 1765. It was managed by Samuel Arnold for a period of fifteen years from 1794. The theatre hosted various entertainment productions and that included a circus that was produced by Philip Astley along with the first exhibition of waxworks of Madame Tussaud in London. It also served as the English Opera House from 1816 for a period of fourteen years. It was damaged in a fire and was reopened in 1834 with a new design by Samuel Beazley. Its unique feature was a balcony that overhung the dress circle. The theatre played operas and various adaptations of works of Charles Dickens. It has become popular as home to the theatre musical version of `The Lion King’.

  9. The Unicorn

    Founded in 1947 by Caryl Jenner, this is a theatre off the West End in London. It is a brightly illuminated children’s theatre that has a couple of performance spaces such as the Clore Theatre and the Weston Theatre. Its artistic director has attracted many directors and playwrights to provide quality fare for children, as well as teenagers. Many productions are staged here during the summer school holidays. The Unicorn has dedicated itself to inspire and invigorate young people. The theatre is located on Tooley Street, on the southern bank of River Thames in Borough of Southwark and it is only a five minutes’ walk away from the London Bridge Station. It also has an education studio and rehearsal space, the John Lyon meeting room and a café.

  10. Shaftesbury Theatre

    This theatre opened in 1911 as the New Princes Theatre. It is an iconic theatre landmark in the West End of London, on Shaftesbury Avenue and the corner of High Holborn. Consent for its remodelling was granted by the Camden Council to Bennetts Associates Architects. The renovation project involved both internal and external modifications to the fly tower and the stage house so that they could become viable on a long term basis for the purpose of accommodation of large scale touring productions. In 2002, the fly tower was reinforced to increase its capacity. The building’s boundary now faces Grape Street. The height and its loading capacity were also increased.