When you take a look at the historical background of London’s West End, it’s difficult not to notice the link it’s had with theatre over many hundreds of years. When the first West End theatre opened in Drury Lane in 1663, droves of visitors and local flocked to the capital to be mesmerized and entertained by the various shows by the numerous shows on offer. Inevitably, London’s theatre tradition has continued to thrive, going from strength to strength and gaining masses of popularity. Today the West End is without a doubt the largest theatre district in the world and has a whole roster of big, international stars walking the marbled floors every night. Not many cities can claim to have same variety of performances as London’s West End, and its enduring acclaim is simply a testament to the great quality of shows and performances on offer.
The Queens’s Theatre
The Queens theatre began in quite unusual circumstances. In 1953, an old cinema, in Station Lane which had been used for storage during the Second World War, was converted, providing the first home for The Queens Theatre. The building began to deteriorate as is natural over time but thankfully; The London Borough of Havering built and restored the theatre in 1974. In 1975, Sir Peter Hall opened the building which still stands today with a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. To mark the theatres fiftieth anniversary, The Queen paid a visit and in 2013, the theatre celebrated its Diamond Jubilee. Standing proudly on the corner of Shaftesbury Avenue, the Queens Theatre has become one of the many entertaining delights the West End has to offer. Its continually evolving programme offers a whole host of world class performances, played out by brilliant theatrical actors from around the world. From musicals, dramas comedies and theatre for families, to the exciting new shows by up and coming theatre makers, and the more down to earth community events, there’s something for everyone at The Queens Theatre. Seating shouldn’t be an issue with this theatre, proving you book in good time. It has an epic 500- seater Main House Theatre, stunningly lit up in gold and ruby-red having maintained a lot of the old vintage art designs of decades ago, but with a modern touch.
The Adelphi Theatre
The Adelphi Theatre is much older than the Queens Theatre, having been founded in the 19th Century by a merchant and his playwright daughter. Residing in a humble slot on the Strand, the building is listed as one of Historical Interest and was Grade two listed for historical preservation in 1987. It was, in its formative years, called San Pereil or “Without Compare”, the theatre was a place where many of playwright Jane Scott’s stage pieces came to life, and the stage saw many comic operettas and pantomimes played out. Adelphi Screamers was the name given to the melodramas performed at the theatre, and it was well known for this kind of performance. In 1819, the theatre, inspired by the neoclassical Adelphi Buildings opposite, was given its current name. The Adelphi Theatre would see many famous writers and comedic talents grace its building and inspire a generation of excellent performances. Many stories by the English writer Charles Dickens were adapted for the stage including notable comic burletta The Bloomsbury Christening.
The theatre has undergone lots of restoration in an attempt to maintain the building, and repair much of the old plastering and decoration, as over time this can become weary and dull. This deceivingly small theatre can safely fit a grand total of 1,486 people!
Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Theatre Royal Drury Lane is a truly impressive Grade one listed building in London’s Covent Garden. The theatre is the most recent in a line of four theatres which also stood at the same location, dating back to 1663! This makes the Drury Lane theatre the oldest theatre site in London which is still in use. It also has one of the largest seating capacities in any London theatre holding a grand total of 3,060 people! The current building was erected in 1812 with a production of Hamlet performed by Robert Elliston.
Apart from the theatres colourful history, there are also the rumours of the theatre being haunted which are of great interest to many people. There have been a number of sightings by famous actors, authors and playwrights of a few very distinct ghosts, who lurk in the theatre when nobody else is around. ‘The Man is Grey’ is often sighted in the theatre seen wearing a hat, wig and cloak, in the fourth row of the upper circle during a specific time window. It is said that he walks along the row of seat- and then through a wall. Of course, none of this has been verified and perhaps its just the good old brain playing tricks on people. Or is it…?