LocationThe Shaftesbury Theatre is predictably located on Shaftesbury Avenue, one of the busiest and most theatrical roads in the capital. As well as being the home of other theatres including the Apollo and Lyric, Shaftesbury Avenue boasts a plethora of interesting and affordable restaurants and bars and is within close proximity of the bright lights of Leicester Square. Covent Garden is a mere 400m away if you fancy taking a stroll around the market or neighbouring shops, and both Soho and Chinatown are within walking distance for cheap and diverse international cuisine.
Getting thereBy Tube: The nearest station to the Shaftesbury Theatre is Holborn on the Piccadilly and Central lines.By bus: Numbers 8, 10, 14, 19, 22A, 22B, 24, 25, 29, 38, 40, 55, 73, 134 and 176 all stop near the theatre.By taxi or car: Hailing a taxi shouldn’t be a problem in such a busy area of town, although you might have to venture a little further out than Shaftesbury Avenue itself which can be very crowded. The nearest car park is the MasterPark at Chinatown or the NCP on Museum Street.
SeatingThe Shaftesbury Theatre is a large West End venue seating around 1400 people across 3 large levels. The Stalls section is divided into a front and back half by a large central aisle, with the rear section divided further into three blocks. The section is wide and deep and it can often feel a little overwhelming. Seats in the rear half of the auditorium feel distant from the action, especially as rows grow longer towards the back and seats begin to fall outside the proscenium. The better seats are at the front of the rear section or towards the back of the front section, as these give the best panoramic view of the stage.
The Royal Circle is wide and steep with a heavy rake allowing good views from all rows. The section is divided into two blocks either side of a wide central aisle which curve around the shape of the balcony. The overhang from the level above begins to affect the view of those towards the rear, chopping off the top section of the stage. Towards the back you can feel quite far away, but views towards the front are excellent.
The Grand Circle is divided into three smaller sections and sits high above the theatre, 60 steps above street level and 82 above the Stalls. You can feel very far from the stage, but views from the front seats provide good value for money. There is a safety bar that runs along the edge of the balcony which can restrict the view for smaller patrons.
AccessibilityThe Shaftesbury Theatre has seating that is spread across 3 levels: the Stalls, Royal Circle and Grand Circle. There is level access from the street into the main foyer, from where the Royal Circle can be accessed without climbing any steps. From the foyer there are 22 steps down to the Stalls and 34 steps up to the Grand Circle. There are concessions available on tickets for all disabled patrons and their carers.
There are 2 spaces for wheelchair users in Boxes 1 and 2 of the Royal Circle, with room for a companion to sit alongside them. Transfer seating is available elsewhere in the Royal Circle, although the Stalls and Grand Circle are inaccessible to those with wheelchairs or scooters. Power Chair users will not be able to enter the auditorium, and will instead have to transfer to a standard wheelchair. There is an adapted toilet to the right of the Royal Circle boxes. The bar is located just above main foyer and is 4 steps up from the foyer area, but can be accessed by re-entering the building through a different door if necessary. However for convenience, guests can be brought drinks in their seats.
An induction loop is available in most areas of the theatre, and an infra-red system has been installed in the main auditorium. Signed performances are occasionally held, depending on the production. Guide dogs are welcome inside the auditorium, or else can be looked after by staff during the show.Access bookings telephone line 020 7492 9930 or access booking form
HistoryThe Shaftesbury Theatre was the last to be built on the famous Shaftesbury Avenue, opening in 1911 under the name of the New Prince’s Theatre, later to become the Prince’s Theatre. Although the theatre today seats a total of 1400, in its earliest days the seating capacity was a whopping 2392, making it one of the largest in the capital. The defining feature of the theatre in its first few decades was the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, who found great success at the Shaftesbury with their productions of Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operas. These began in 1919 and carried on throughout the 1920s, returning once more to delight audiences in 1942. In between runs other plays were performed, such as Diplomacy and the Rose of Persia, with the former starring theatre legend Basil Rathbone.
In 1962 the theatre was sold to the record label EMI, who renamed it as the Shaftesbury Theatre the following year. Under the new management the theatre became the home for several Broadway hits including Gentleman Prefer Blondes and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and the musical Hair ran for an impressive 1998 performances before the subsidence of the ceiling forced it to close in 1973. The building overcame the threat of closure and became a Grade II-listed property in 1974, with subsequent shows such as West Side Story, Follies and Rent all taking up place at the theatre.
In recent decades the Shaftesbury Theatre has aligned itself with a more musical output. Hairspray, Flashdance the Musical and transatlantic smash Rock of Ages have all been hits for the theatre in the past few years. Tim Rice's latest musical From Here to Eternity played a disappointingly short run before the theatre housed Chichester's revival of The Pajama Game. The Shaftesbury is now home to the UK premiere of Broadway sensation Memphis starring soul diva Beverley Knight.
- The Illusionists, opened 14 Nov 2015, closed 03 Jan 2016
- Memphis, opened 09 Oct 2014, closed 31 Oct 2015
- The Pajama Game, opened 02 May 2014, closed 13 Sep 2014
- From Here To Eternity, opened 30 Sep 2013, closed 29 Mar 2014
- Burn The Floor, opened 06 Mar 2013, closed 01 Sep 2013
- Rock of Ages, opened 23 Aug 2011, closed 06 Jan 2013