Location: 31 Shaftesbury Avenue
Currently Showing: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Access: Piccadilly Circus
Stage Door: Archer Street, make two lefts out of the main entrance
Ownership: Nimax Theatres
Henry Lowenfield bought a piece of land on Shaftesbury Avenue at the turn of the 20th century. The site was next door to the Lyric Theatre which opened in 1888. The Apollo Theatre is one of London’s few freehold theatres. It was specifically designed for musical theatre and was named after the Greek god of arts and leader of the muses.
The opening night caused public uproar. For the first performance, on 21st February 1901, there was a selected audience. The Times refused to review the production on the first performance, instead waiting until the first public performance the following day. The production was The Belle of Bohemia. This was followed by John Martin-Harvey’s season which included an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities called The Only Way.
In 1944, control of the theatre was transferred to Prince Littler. Noel Coward’s Private Lives was revived here starring John Clements and Kay Hammond. In 1948, The Happiest Day of Your Life opened here and starred Margaret Rutherford. This was followed by Treasure Hunt which was directed by John Gielgud. The theatre’s longest running production was Boeing Boeing which opened in 1963 and transferred to the Duchess Theatre two years later. The ’70s and ’80s brought many comedies to the theatre.
On 19th December 2013, part of the theatre’s ceiling collapsed 40 minutes into a performance of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, bringing down part of the balcony and a lighting rig and causing almost 100 injuries to an audience of over 700 people. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was forced to cancel future performances at the theatre and later transferred to the nearby Gielgud Theatre. The Apollo Theatre reopened on 26th March 2014.
The Apollo Theatre is located on Shaftesbury Avenue which is home to six of the West End’s theatres (Lyric, Apollo, Gielgud, Queen’s, Palace and Shaftesbury Theatres). Piccadilly Circus is only two minutes walk away. Shopping streets Regent and Oxford Street are also close by (also running off Piccadilly Circus). Popular tourist site Trafalgar Square is five minutes’ walk away.
Our favourite restaurants nearby are:
- Bella Italia – Shaftesbury Avenue, vouchers available, wide menu
- Getti – Jermyn Street, Italian cuisine, reasonably priced, wide menu
- The Terrace – Le Meridien Hotel Piccadilly, British cuisine, classy experience, expensive
- The Theatre Cafe – Shaftesbury Avenue, café, hot drinks and snacks, displaying signed theatre memorabilia and playing cast recordings.
Tickets for productions at this theatre are a little cheaper than some other West End shows. The premium seats in the stalls are around rows G-I. The seats further forward are cheaper due to the height of the stage but have a very good view. Seats at the back of the stalls (such as row X) are considerably lower in price because of the overhang of the next tier.
The Apollo is quite a small venue and so there aren’t many seats with a restricted view.
Where to buy tickets
The Apollo Theatre is currently owned by Nimax Theatres. Therefore the best place to buy tickets is direct from the Nimax Theatres’ website where you will pay face value plus a booking fee.
Reviews from the Apollo
Peter Pan Goes Wrong – ★★★★★ “…magical, perfectly orchestrated, calamitous production” Read more >>>