Location: 210 Shaftesbury Avenue
Currently Showing: The Illusionists (opening in July)
Access: Holborn (exit marked High Holborn)
Stage Door: out of the main entrance, turn left
Ownership: The Theatre of Comedy Company
The theatre was opened in 1911 under the name of the New Prince’s Theatre. The first performance held in this theatre was The Three Musketeers. In 1919, there was a popular showing of Gilbert and Sullivan operas which continued into the ’20s. The theatre was sold to Electric and Music Industries in 1962 and was renamed the Shaftesbury Theatre. Under this ownership, numerous Broadway productions transferred and stayed for long runs, including How To Do Business Without Really Trying.
In 1973, part of the ceiling fell down during a performance of Hair, which was forced to close just short of 2000 performances. The theatre was almost claimed by a redevelopment but the Equity campaign to save it succeeded and it became a Grade II listed building in 1974.
In 1975, the theatre reopened with West Side Story. Since then the theatre has been a venue for many productions, including Rent, Hairspray, Fame, Flashdance, Rock of Ages, Memphis and Motown. The theatre is currently closed for renovations and will reopen with a limited season of The Illusionists.
Shaftesbury Avenue is famous in the land of theatre for being home to six theatres (Shaftesbury, Palace, Lyric, Gielgul, Queen’s and Apollo). Covent Garden, Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus are within fifteen minutes’ walk of the theatre and have plenty of bars, restaurants and shops.
Our favourite nearby restaurants are:
- The White Hart – Drury Lane, London’s oldest licensed premises, reasonably priced
- Zizzi – Bow Street, chain, wide ranging menu, vouchers available
- La Ballerina – Bow Street, Italian cuisine, wide ranging menu
- Pizza Express – Bow Street, chain, vouchers available
- Wildwood – Bow Street, Italian cuisine
The Shaftesbury Theatre is London’s largest independently owned theatre seating 1400. The entrance foyer is spacious and has the box office, merchandise stall, a bar counter and a row of chairs in it. The bar areas for the stalls and dress circle are a little small for the numbers of people in it. The auditorium is clean and well kept and the seats are comfortable. The toilets are at the back right of the auditorium and queues at the interval form very quickly.
Most seats in the Shaftesbury provide an excellent view. The premium seats offer the best perspective however, they are very expensive. The ends of rows like C and D are available for a more reasonable price, which are very good seats with minimal obstruction of the side of the stage. From Row T backwards, seats are even cheaper, however this is because the overhang of the Royal Circle.
The Royal Circle offers good views but seats are the same price as in the stalls and the view is not as good as being in the stalls.
Where to buy tickets
For this theatre, buy direct from the theatre’s own website as you buy the tickets at face value. There are ticket deals available for some shows at certain times so do have a look around if you have the time. Do bear in mind that some ‘deals’ are not actually deals and are still more expensive than buying direct from the theatre.
Reviews from the Shaftesbury
Motown – ★★★ “…amazing songs but the plot is indecisive and therefore insubstantial.” Read more >>>