Currently Showing: Only Fools and Horses
Access: Piccadilly Circus (exit marked Haymarket)
Stage Door: Suffolk Street (turn left twice out of the main entrance)
Ownership: Access Entertainment
The first theatre was built in 1720 by John Potter on the site of The King’s Head Inn. It was the third public theatre to be opened in the West End. It opened on 29th December 1720 with La Fille a la Morte, ou le Badeaut de Paris. The theatre’s first major success was in 1729 with a production of Samuel Johnson of Cheshire’s Harlothrumbo, or the Supernatural.
In 1730, the theatre was taken over and renamed the Little Theatre in the Haymarket. It closed seven years later due to passage of new licensing laws. Plays and pantomimes were performed here until another licensing law was passed.
John Potter was succeeded by John Whitehead. In 1758, Theophilus Cibber obtained a general license. Samuel Foote then acquired a royal license. Foote bought the lease from Potter’s executors and enlarged and improved the theatre which then reopened on 14th May 1767 as the Theatre Royal and was London third patented theatre. Foote sold the theatre and patent to George Colman Sr on 16th January 1777.
While the Drury Lane Theatre was being rebuilt, from 1793-94, the Haymarket was opened under the Drury Lane patent. An accident occurred on 3rd February 1794 when 20 people were killed. Colman died in 1794 and his son, George Colman Jr, who was a successful playwright and manager but, due to his extravagance, he was forced to sell his shares to his brother-in-law, David Morris, and he ended up in prison for his debt but he still continued to manage the theatre.
All buildings on the east of Haymarket from the theatre southward were rebuilt in 1820 with John Nash’s scheme for neighbourhood development. Nash persuaded the proprietors of the theatre to move to a site south of the old one. He designed the theatre we see today.
The theatre reopened on 4th July 1821 with The Rivals. Benjamin Nottingham Webster became the theatre’s manager from 1837 to 1853. Webster and his successor, John Baldwin Buckstone, established the theatre as a comedy house.
In 1862 and 1864 respectively, two shows, Our American Cousin and David Garrick, starred Edward Sothern. W S Gilbert premiered many of his plays and dramas at this venue. In 1879, the Bancrofts took over and opened with Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s Money. The auditorium was rebuilt and featured London’s first stage to be enclosed in a picture frame proscenium.
The theatre came to Herbert Beerbohm Tree after the Bancrofts retired. Oscar Wilde debuted his first comedy at this theatre in April 1893 – A Woman of No Importance – and in January 1895 with Ideal Husband. Later that year, George Du Maurir’s Trilby was shown here.
The following year, Cyril Maude and Fredrick Harrison became the lessees. The auditorium was redesigned in 1904. Harrison became the sole manager when Maude acquired the Playhouse Theatre. After his death in 1926, Horace Watson took over. In 1940, John Gielgud directed The Beggar’s Opera which starred Michael Redgrave. Oscar Wilde’s Importance of Being Earnest and Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Mengerie were shown at this theatre in 1948.
In 1953, Noel Coward performed in George Bernard Shaw’s The Apple Cart and described the Haymarket as “the most perfect theatre in the world”. The theatre was passed down through the Watson family until 1971 when Louis I Michaels became the lessee. After his death, the lease passed to the company Louis I Michaels Ltd, who still manage the theatre today but it is now owned by the Crown Estate.
Since then, the theatre has been host to many notable productions including, Virginia (starring Maggie Smith), The School of Scandal (featuring Donald Sinden), Heartbreak House by George Bernard Shaw (with Rex Harrison), Cyrano de Bergerac (starring Robert Lindsay), A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, Shakespeare’s Villains (a one-man play starring Steven Berkoff, nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Entertainment), A Few Good Men (featuring Rob Lowe), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Heathers, and The Band.
The Theatre Royal Haymarket is located on Haymarket almost directly opposite Her Majesty’s Theatre. It is very close to Piccadilly Circus.
Our favourite restaurants nearby:
- Getti – Jermyn Street, Italian cuisine, good value
- The Terrace – Le Meridien Hotel Piccadilly, British cuisine, classy experience
- Assagetti – Haymarket, Italian cuisine
- Prezzo – chain restaurant, wide ranging menu, vouchers available
The theatre bar opens an hour before the show starts. There is a 2 for 1 offer available on some drinks between 18:30 and 18:45 for evening shows and between 13:30 and 13:45 for matinees. The theatre is quite small but very nice. The auditorium is spectacular, with a grand chandelier and beautiful marble. The whole theatre is well kept and clean.
Tickets for productions at the Theatre Royal Haymarket are cheaper than most other West End theatres with premium tickets costing around £50. In the Stalls, row S backwards is discounted because the view is obstructed by the overhang of the Royal Circle. There is no price difference for end of row seats because the view is not compromised.
The Royal Circle seats are the same price as the Stalls premium seats, excluding the back row which is discounted. The Upper Circle and Gallery seats are significantly cheaper with a top price of £30.
Where to buy tickets
The best place to buy tickets for productions at the Theatre Royal Haymarket is through the theatre’s website where you will buy tickets at face value plus a booking fee.
Reviews from the Theatre Royal Haymarket
Bad Jews – ★★★ “…a very funny play with an intriguing and historically relevant plot.” Read more >>>
Heathers – ★★★★★ “…a thought-provoking, brave, humorous delight.” Read more >>>