Charing Cross Theatre
The Arches, Villiers Street, London, WC2N 6NG
LocationCharing Cross Theatre, formerly known as The Players Theatre, is situated in the Arches, directly beneath Charing Cross Station, close to the bank of the River Thames. The theatre is situated just off The Strand, which is home to many of London’s famous West End theatres, including the Vaudeville, the Adelphi, and the Savoy. The Charing Cross Theatre is located a short distance from top tourist destinations such as Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus, as well as cultural highlights such as the National Gallery, Portrait Gallery and Royal Opera House, making it easy for you to take in some of the sights of London before taking a short stroll to the theatre in time for the show. The theatre is conveniently located near to Covent Garden, where an array of shops, bars and restaurants to suit all tastes can be found. Covent Garden is also famous for its live performance artists and the perfect place for a pre-theatre stroll.
Getting ThereBy Tube: The nearest tubes are Charing Cross and Embankment. The Theatre is located just beneath Charring Cross Rail Station which is where you will exit from Charring Cross Tube. To get there walk out of the station and turn right walk down the stairs, turning right onto Villiers Street. Walk 40 yards and turn right into Craven PassageBy Train: The theatre is located underneath Charing Cross Rail station. To get there walk out of the station and turn right walk down the stairs, turning right onto Villiers Street. Walk 40 yards and turn right into Craven PassageBy Bus: the number 3, 11, 12, 15, 24, 29, 53, 77, 77A, 88, 159, 170, 172 all stop nearby.By Car: The nearest parking is situated at NCP 45 St Martins Lane, London WC2N 4HX.
SeatingThe Charing Cross theatre is comprised of 262 seats and is in the style of an Off Broadway theatre. Please be aware the seating configuration is subject to change depending on the show.
The majority of the seating is in the Stalls which is split into two sections the front stalls and the rear stalls by an aisle located in front of row K. As a result row K is a good choice for those seeking extra legroom.
The view from the Stalls is generally unobstructed from all seats. Those wishing to feel more involved in the action should sit in the front section. From row D back the seats are raked by steps which allows audience members to see over the people in front. The seating in the first few rows is staggered to allow for clear views. The best seats are located towards the rear of the front section around row J. There is a small aisle in front of the final back row which can feel quite removed from the action, although these seats are sometimes discounted.
Either side of the front section of the stalls close to the front of the stage is a raised bench. The seats are only sold for some performances and will not always be available. The seats face into the auditorium rather than at the stage and therefore don’t provide the best view. Not recommended unless they are seriously discounted.
Above the front section of the stalls on either side is a balcony seating around 10 people which run as slips along the side of the auditorium. These offer a slightly restricted view of the stage, which can be made worse if the people in front lean forward. Seats face across the stage rather than directly at it. However these seats are often cheaper than the Stalls.
Seating prices vary from show to show but generally cheaper tickets can be found in the slips and on the balconies.
AccessibilityThe Charing Cross Theatre has unimpeded access from the Strand or Embankment into the foyer of the venue. From there it is possible to access by wheelchair the theatre box office, unisex wheel chair accessible toilet facilities, the bars and restaurant and Balcony One of the theatre. Balcony One has removable seating and space for up to 4 wheelchairs.
The main level of the auditorium is 16 steps down from the front entrance, with handrails on either side. The toilets for the main stalls are a further 8 steps down from the doors to the theatre. Seating in the theatre is generally raked by steps from row D back.
Row K on the central aisle is on the same level as the doors to the theatre and has the most leg room of all rows.
The Charring Cross theatre welcomes guide dogs.Access bookings telephone line 020 7492 9930 or access booking form
HistoryTucked away under Charing Cross rail station The Charing Cross theatre is one of London’s hidden gems.
The Charring Cross theatre has quite a complex history and was formally known as 'The Players theatre' which is where the current theatre's bar 'The Players' gets it's name. The Players were a company formed in 1936 that specialised in recreating Victorian music hall entertainment. The Players occupied many sites around London’s West End before settling under the arches.
The current site of The Charing Cross theatre has gone through many incarnations and was formally a famous Victorian music hall itself. The Charing Cross music hall was first established under the arches in 1866 by the Gatti brothers to replace the former Hungerford Hall, which was used for forms of magical entertainment but unfortunately burned down in 1854. The site had been acquired by the rail way station which opened in 1864.
The music hall was built in the space beneath the arches and was fittingly named ‘The Archers’. It played a programme of musicals, pantomimes and melodramas. The music hall preceded to be renamed a number of times as ‘The Hungerford Music Hall’, 'Gatti’s Under the Arches' and 'Gatti’s Charring Cross Music Hall’. It is said Rudyard Kipling visited Gatti’s as a young man and drew inspiration from it for his Barrack-Room Ballads.
As the popularity of music hall began to decline the theatre began to be used as a cinema. In 1910 it became 'The Arena Cinema' and in 1928 'The Forum Cinema'. During the Second World War the theatre was used as a fire station and as a storage for the Army Corps of cinematography.
After the War the theatre was acquired by Leonard Sachs and became the new home of The Player’s Theatre. There the company prospered and many famous names graced the stage including Hattie Jacques, Bill Owen, Ian Carmichael, Clive Dunn, Ian Wallace, John Hewer, Daphne Anderson, Patsy Rowlands, Maggie Smith, Marian Studholme, Marion Grimaldi, and Margaret Burton. The Players provided the inspiration for the BBC’s The Good Old Days, which ran from 1953 to 1983 and recreated an authentic period music hall with songs and sketches from the era performed in traditional style by modern performers. The show was compered by The Players founder Leonard Sachs. The Players was also the venue where hit musical The Boyfriend was performed for the very first time.
In the 1980’s The Players theatre was bought by an accounting theatre and The Players had a replica of the theatre built in a different archway a little further down the road, which is the current site of The Charring Cross Theatre. The Player’s theatre closed in 2002 after changing hands several times the theatre was bought by the owners of night club Heaven (located opposite) who continue to run the theatre.
The Charing Cross theatre is comprised of a 262 seat theatre and bar. It is home to some of the best off West End productions and their programme includes plays, musicals and cabaret. Notable past productions include Ushers the front of House musical. The Players Bar and Kitchen serves up an award-winning menu of modern British cuisine. The bar has a late license to 2.30 am.
- Graeme of Thrones, opened 13 Oct 2017, closed 11 Nov 2017
- YANK!, opened 03 Jul 2017, closed 19 Aug 2017
- Death Takes a Holiday, opened 16 Jan 2017, closed 04 Mar 2017
- Ragtime, opened 08 Oct 2016, closed 10 Dec 2016
- Titanic, opened 28 May 2016, closed 13 Aug 2016
- Dusty, opened 25 May 2015, closed 19 Nov 2015