Location: 23 Craven Street
Currently Showing: The Fiddler on the Roof
Stage Door: Craven Street, one right out of the main entrance
Ownership: Ambassador Theatre Group
The Playhouse Theatre opened, as the Royal Avenue Theatre, on 11th March 1812 with a capacity of 1200. The first production shown here was Madame Favert as Jacques Offenbach. The theatre hosted many comic operas, burlesques (travesties) and farce plays. George Bernard Shaw made his West End début at this venue in Arms and the Man in 1894.
The theatre was rebuilt in 1905. During construction, part of Charing Cross Station’s roof and western wall fell, knocking down the roof and wall of the theatre. This accident caused six fatalities and many injuries. The venue reopened on 6th January 1907 with a capacity of 679.
In 1951, the BBC took it over and used it for live performances. Bands including KISS, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and The Who hosted live performances in the venue. The BBC left the theatre in 1976.
It reopened 11 years later with Girlfriends and was bought the year later, 1988, for £1 million by Jeffrey Archer. Under his ownership, the theatre hosted many successful plays, including Tennessee Williams’ The Rose Tattoo, which starred Julie Walters, and Moliere’s Tartuffe, which starred Felicity Kendal. In 1992, Archer sold the theatre for £2 million to Ray Cooney, before the Ambassador Theatre Group assumed ownership in 2002.
The Playhouse Theatre is located very close to Embankment, which means there are excellent views of the Thames and London’s skyline less than a minute’s walk away. This view is particularly pretty by night. Piccadilly Circus is very close, only five minutes’ walk.
The Playhouse Theatre is a very well kept venue. Everything is very clean, tidy and efficient. It opens around 70 minutes before the performance and the auditorium opens approximately 40 minutes before the show.
Our favourite restaurants nearby are:
- Bianco 43 – Trafalgar Square, Northumberland Avenue, Italian, reasonable price
- Getti – Jermyn Street, Italian, pizza, pasta, reasonable price
- The Terrace, Le Meridien Hotel – Piccadilly, British cuisine, expensive
The Playhouse is quite a small venue. Most the stalls seats have an excellent view, and even the back row isn’t a poor view which is rare for a West End theatre. The ends of rows in rows such as E are cheaper but the view is completely unrestricted and there is extra legroom because there is no seat in front. The front of the stalls has a walkway before the stage so it is good for extra legroom and anyone with larger bags.
Where to buy tickets
This venue is owned by ATG and therefore the best place to buy tickets is direct from their website where you will pay face value with an additional booking fee. If you are an ATG TheatreCard holder, you will not pay a booking fee and will receive a discount on drinks from ATG owned theatre bars.
Reviews from the Playhouse
Rocky Horror Show – ★★★★★ “…sa wonderful weird experience of flirty, flamboyant sex appeal, frivolity and decadence.” Read more >>>
The End of Longing – ★★★★ “Matthew Perry has made an excellent playwrighting debut, with smart jokes, well-written dialogue, and flawed but endearing characters…” Read more >>>