Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Theatre Royal Drury Lane tours
Theatre Royal Drury Lane is closed until October 2020 for extensive renovation and restoration. Currently taking bookings for tours from November 2020
Duration: 1 hour
How to book: Check website for booking information
Tour dates: From November 2020, Wed & Fri – 10:30am, 12pm, 2:30pm; Thur & Sat – 10:30am, 12pm; Sun – 10:30am
Cost: Individuals: £18.50 (No booking fee); Groups (15+): £15
More information on the renovation project from Lloyd Webber Theatres.
How to get there
The Theatre Royal Drury Lane is located on Catherine Street in heart of Covent Garden. The nearest underground stations are Covent Garden (Piccadilly line) and Holborn (Central and Piccadilly lines).
For further information please see the Theatre Royal Drury Lane website.
With over 48 theatres in the West End alone, London provides visitors with a wealth of diverse theatre architecture both new and old, from major playhouses to small music halls.
Within walking distance the following London theatres currently offer tours:
Royal National Theatre
The Old Vic
Royal Opera House
The London Palladium
Theatre Royal Haymarket
For three and a half centuries the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, has provided entertainment for the masses and has been visited by every monarch since the Restoration. The theatre has not one, but two, Royal boxes and it was here that the public first heard both the National Anthem and Rule Britannia. The Theatre celebrated its 350th years of operation on 7 May 2013 and the current building had its 200th birthday in October 2012.
The first theatre was erected in 1663 by Thomas Killigrew, who had received a patent to do so from King Charles II. We still operate under this Royal Charter today and a copy is proudly displayed although the original is now in the safe-keeping of the V&A Theatre and Performance Collections. This building, about the current size of the present stage, was visited by Samuel Pepys and was where Charles II first encountered Nell Gwynne, who made her debut on the stage in 1665. It was short-lived, being destroyed by fire in 1672.
Killigrew built a second theatre, opening in 1674 and remaining in operation for 117 years. This building witnessed the triumphs of Thomas Betterton who played Hamlet when he was over 70, Charles Macklin who murdered a fellow actor in the Green Room and lived to be over 100, Peg Woffington, Mrs Jordan, Sarah Siddons and Charles Kemble. David Garrick became the manager in 1747 and introduced many reforms which have shaped modern theatre. He ruled the roost for 29 years and was succeeded in 1776 by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, whose best known play, The School for Scandal, received its first performance here in 1777.
Sheridan oversaw the demolition of the ageing building and its replacement by a larger theatre to seat 3,600 people, designed by Henry Holland, in 1794. It opened in March with a performance of sacred music by Handel because theatrical performances were banned during Lent. This building boasted the world’s first safety curtain but still burned down only 15 years later, bringing Sheridan’s management, and personal fortune, to the ground along with it.
The fourth and present building opened in 1812. It was designed by Benjamin Wyatt and the front of house areas today are much as they were at the first performance. In early 2013 the front of house areas were all refurbished with a major decoration project restoring the areas as closely as possible to the original 1812 scheme. The theatre is currently closed for extensive renovation.
Since December 2005 the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, has been owned 100% by The Really Useful Group Limited.
See The Theatres Trust Datbase ID number 206 Theatre Royal Drury Lane