Northumberland Ave, London, WC2N 5DE
LocationThe Playhouse Theatre can be found on Northumberland Avenue in the busy Westminster area of town, close to the banks of the Thames and within easy walking distance from other tourist hotspots like Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square. The area is also known as London’s Theatreland thanks to the large number of theatres that are crowded around the location, making it an interesting part of the city for musical fans to take a walk around.
Getting thereBy Tube: The most convenient station to disembark at is Embankment, which is only 100m away from the main entrance to the theatre and can be accessed via the Northern, Bakerloo, District and Circle lines.By bus: Numbers 3, 6, 9, 12, 13, 15, 23, 24, 29, 53, 77A, 88, 91, 139, 159, 176 and 453 all stop close to the theatre.By taxi or car: If you want to catch a cab home after the performance there are taxi ranks outside both Charing Cross and Embankment tube stations. There are both single and double yellow lines on Northumberland Avenue that you can park on although these are likely to be crowded, and there is a Westminster City car park on Spring Gardens, Trafalgar Square, which is a 5-10 minute walk from the theatre.
SeatingIn comparison to some other theatres in the capital the Playhouse has a fairly small seating capacity, with 786 seats across three different levels. This can be quite an advantage, especially with a show like Dreamboats and Petticoats, as it creates a more intimate feel and means you are less likely to have your view obscured. As is visible in the seating plan on the right, the nearest seats to the stage and therefore probably the best are to be found in the Stalls. As a result Stalls seats are markedly more expensive than others in the theatre but there are still some great deals to be had and for an uninterrupted theatre experience it can certainly be worth it.
The Stalls are one wide section fanning out from the stage. There is a good rake throughout the section meaning that views are often clear. Seats towards the middle of the auditorium are on wide rows, which can fall outside of the proscenium. Best seats tend to be towards the middle/rear of the section as they are on a level with the stage. The seats in the Dress Circle are higher up from the stage and still afford some brilliant views, especially if you manage to get tickets in the first few rows. Prices at the front can be the same price as those in the stalls, but the further back you go the cheaper they are likely to be. The section is divided into a larger central block with two side blocks surrounding the stairwells. The best views are towards the centre of the section.
The highest level of the theatre is the Upper Circle, where the cheapest ticket prices can generally be found. Although these seats are not recommended for the elderly or those who have difficulty walking due to the large number of stairs you have to climb to access it, there are some bargain seats to be snapped up in this section. The views are arguably not as good as in the lower levels, but are reasonable for the price. The section is again divided into three and is quite deep and high. Avoid the ends of each row and aim for the centre.
For a view of the stage from the Stalls, see our video below!
AccessibilityThe Playhouse Theatre consists of 3 levels in total: the Stalls, Dress Circle and Upper Circle. The main entrance is 3 steps up from the street level, although a ramp can be provided for wheelchair users and those who have difficulty walking. Once in the main foyer there is level access to the Stalls, 28 steps up to the Dress Circle and 82 steps up to the Upper Circle. Discounted rates are available to disabled patrons and their carers.
There are designated wheelchair spaces in Row G and Row J of the Stalls, with a further 6 transfer seats available. A companion can sit next to the disabled patron in any of these spaces. Scooters and wheelchairs can be stored at the rear of the Stalls during each performance. Other sections of the auditorium are not accessible via wheelchair of scooter. There is an adapted toilet in the foyer, where there is also a level access bar; however, drinks can be brought to patrons in their seats if so required.
The auditorium is fitted with a Sennheiser infra-red system, with induction loop necklaces or headsets provided for a £10 deposit. Guide dogs are permitted into the Stalls section of the theatre provided that their owner is sitting in an aisle seat, and theatre staff are happy to dog-sit if requested.Access bookings telephone line +44 (0) 800 912 6971 or access booking form
HistoryThe Playhouse Theatre is one of the many famous theatres located in the Westminster area of London, surrounded by historical landmarks such as Trafalgar Square, Nelson’s Column and the National Gallery, in addition to being in the midst of many of the capital’s most noted hotels, restaurants and shops. The Grade II-listed building hosts 786 patrons across 3 levels. The theatre dates all the way back to the 19th century, having opened in 1882 under the name of the Royal Avenue Theatre, and has hosted a rich variety of entertainment in the intervening decades. From comic operas to burlesque, serious drama to novel adaptations, and musicals to rock and roll concerts, the Playhouse has seen almost every kind of production grace its stage over the years!
From its humble comic and music hall beginnings, the Playhouse slowly saw a number of quality dramas encroach upon its schedule as the years progressed, with playwrights such as George Bernard Shaw and W. Somerset Maugham premiering their work here and with later revivals of classics by Tennessee Williams, Ibsen and Chekhov all proving popular. In 1905 it suffered a blow when part of the roof collapsed and killed several people, but after extensive rebuilding work it reopened in 1907 and went from strength to strength, with dramatic productions, music concerts and studio recordings all taking place under its (repaired) roof.
In recent years the Playhouse Theatre has played home to musicals La Cage aux Folles, Dreamboats and Petticoats and Monty Python's Spamalot. In 2014 the theatre saw Hollywood starlet Lindsay Lohan make her stage debut and a musical version of Pedro Almadovar's Woman On the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown starring Tamsin Greig opened.
Good Chance Theatre's The Jungle transferred to the theatre in the summer of 2018, followed by the Chichester Festival Theatre's musical Caroline, or Change.
- Caroline, or Change, opened 20 Nov 2018, closed 02 Mar 2019
- The Jungle, opened 16 Jun 2018, closed 03 Nov 2018
- The Best Man, opened 24 Feb 2018, closed 26 May 2018
- Glengarry Glen Ross, opened 26 Oct 2017, closed 10 Feb 2018
- Derren Brown - Underground, opened 11 Sep 2017, closed 14 Oct 2017
- The Kite Runner, opened 08 Jun 2017, closed 26 Aug 2017
- David Baddiel: My Family - Not the Sitcom, opened 28 Mar 2017, closed 03 Jun 2017
- An Inspector Calls, opened 04 Nov 2016, closed 25 Mar 2017
- 1984, opened 14 Jun 2016, closed 29 Oct 2016
- The End of Longing, opened 02 Feb 2016, closed 14 May 2016
- Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games, opened 10 Oct 2015, closed 22 Jan 2016
- The Rocky Horror Show, opened 11 Sep 2015, closed 19 Sep 2015
- 1984, opened 12 Jun 2015, closed 05 Sep 2015
- Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, opened 20 Dec 2014, closed 23 May 2015
- Speed-the-Plow, opened 24 Sep 2014, closed 29 Nov 2014
- Spamalot, opened 14 Nov 2012, closed 12 Apr 2014