The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane is located in Covent Garden and is the most recent in a line of four theatres on the same ground, the first dating back to 1663. This makes it London’s oldest theatre and one of the most important in the English-speaking world. For the first two centuries of its existence it hosted spoken plays and dramas, and not musical performances. The original building was destroyed in a fire in 1672 and the second, designed by Christopher Wren opened in 1674. Lasting nearly 120 years the building was destroyed and rebuilt in 1791 due to new management by Richard Brinsley Sheridan. This building only lasted 15 years and was subsequently destroyed in a fire. The present building has existed since 1812 and is owned by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber as part of the Really Useful Theatre Group.
The venue has been home to many famous shows in its long history, from brand new plays to groundbreaking musicals. The theatre was the home to many London premieres of hit Broadway musicals such as Oklahoma! (1946), South Pacific (1951), My Fair Lady and A Chorus Line (1976). Recent musicals that have been staged at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane include Miss Saigon running for a successful ten years from 1989, and a musical adaptation of The Lord of the Rings from 2007 to 2008. More recently Cameron Mackintosh’s new production of Oliver! opened at the venue starring Rowan Atkinson as Fagin and the people’s Nancy Jodie Prenger after winning the BBC talent search ‘I’d Do Anything’. The venue has also been the host to various award ceremonies such as the Olivier Awards as well as galas and concerts of music icons.
The theatre is also one of London’s most haunted venues with ‘The Man in Grey’ wandering the venue looking like an 18th Century nobleman. Seeing the figure is supposed to bring good luck to the performer, unlike the luck of the figure himself who is said to be the ghost of a man murdered at the venue…
Access and Facilities
Facilities at the venue are excellent, with bars at all level, as well as a Grand Saloon on the Royal Circle level. There are a number of reception rooms available which can be hired out for hospitality. The grand staircase is a beautiful centrepiece to the theatre and leads right up to the Royal Circle.
The theatre is accessible for disabled patrons with level access from Russell Street rather than the main entrance. Wheelchair positions are available in the Stalls, along with an adapted toilet. The theatre is also fitted with an infrared hearing loop.
Drury Lane Theatre London.com, outlines the upcoming show Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the Musical which begins previews at the theatre from May 2013. As well as providing a map of the area, there is also a seating map and information on buying tickets, with information about hotels near Drury Lane Theatre.