There are over forty theatres in London’s West End, most of which were built in late Victorian and Edwardian times. The West End remains one of the most prestigious places to watch a musical or a play, and in 2007, attendances to West End theatres surpassed 13 million people, which set a record from the 12 million in 2005.
For over 200 years tourists and Londoners alike have been visiting Theatreland to watch a live stage performance. The West End district was beginning to take form in 1806 with the opening of the Adelphi Theatre on The Strand. Along with the Theatres Act of 1843, many more theatres began opening due to a ban on censorship which greatly relaxed conditions and allowed for many more plays to be performed. Until the start of World War I, theatres continued to be built around Piccadilly Circus, Covent Garden and similar areas.
Today, people visit London’s West End to see the high quality of the performances and to become a part of a scene that has lasted for over 200 years.
London Theatre Map
Apollo Victoria Theatre is opposite Victoria rail and tube station and originally opened as a cinema in 1930. It is currently the home to Wicked, the musical, and has previously housed Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Starlight Express.
Cambridge Theatre opened in 1930 on Seven Dials near Covent Garden. It currently shows the musical Matilda, and was previously the home to Chicago.
Her Majesty’s Theatre was constructed in 1897, although a theatre has existed on the site since 1705. It is currently home to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s, The Phantom of the Opera.
New London Theatre is built on the site of previous music hall theatres that existed in the 19th Century. The present building however, only opened in 1973 and is home to new West End play, War Horse.
Playhouse Theatre near Trafalgar Square originally opened in 1882 and was bought by the BBC in 1951 who hosted live performances from bands such as The Beatles and Queen until it left the theatre in 1976. It is currently showing the play The Mystery of Charles Dickens starring Simon Callow.
Prince Edward Theatre opened in 1930 and was the first home to the ABBA musical Mamma Mia! for five years. Currently showing here is the Four Seaons smash-hit musical, Jersey Boys.
Prince of Wales Theatre opened in 1884 and is in a prominent location between Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus. It is currently the home of Let It Be before the highly anticipated musical The Book of Mormon opens next year.
Queen’s Theatre is located on Shaftsbury Avenue and opened in 1908. It is home to the longest-running musical in the West End, Les Misérables.
Savoy Theatre opened in 1881 and originally hosted Gilbert and Sullivan operas. Since the building of the hotel of the same name in 1889, it has become one of London’s top theatres. At the moment, it hosts Cabaret starring Will Young.