Sondheim Theatre (Queen's Theatre)
51 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 6BA
(1 Sep 2020 to 6 Mar 2021)
LocationFormerly the Queen’s Theatre, the Sondheim Theatre is situated on the Shaftesbury Avenue, one of the most famous streets for theatre in London and a fantastic place to soak up the neon lights and huge posters that accompany some of the West End’s biggest shows. As well as being the home of a number of the capital’s most renowned theatres, the area surrounding Shaftesbury Avenue is a hive of activity that provides endless options for eating, drinking and entertainment. Nearby Soho contains a vast network of bars and restaurants, and Chinatown is full of Chinese eateries to sate your appetite before a show. In addition the Sondheim Theatre is within easy walking distance of Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus, and a little further along you can wander around Covent Garden’s array of shops, museums and theatres.Getting thereBy Tube: The nearest station is Piccadilly Circus, which is a 3 minute walk from the theatre and can be reached on either the Piccadilly or the Bakerloo line.By bus: Numbers 14, 19, 22B, 38, 53, 88, 94 and 159 all travel in the direction of Shaftesbury Avenue.By taxi or car: The nearest car park to the theatre is on Brewer Street a 2 minute walk away, and costs £26.00 for 4 hours parking. If you would rather travel by taxi, there is a rank at Charing Cross Station – however, Shaftesbury Avenue is a busy road and you should have no problem hailing one outside the theatre.
SeatingThe Sondheim Theatre has a reasonably large main auditorium when compared to other London theatres, seating 1065 across its three levels. This means that there is likely to be a seat to suit every budget, although it is worth being wary of some of the cheapest tickets if you are determined to have a fantastic view given that some seats are quite far away from the main stage. Arguably the best section to secure tickets for is the Stalls, which as can seen in the seating plan on the right is the part of the theatre closest to the main stage. The front few centre rows are particularly desirable, although often markedly more expensive; however, there are still some great offers to be found for Stalls seats and they really do afford the best views of the stage. The stalls section is not divided and can feel quit claustrophobic, especially if you are sat under the deep circle overhang. Rows L and M are as far back as you should sit for best value for money.
The second level of the theatre is known as the Dress Circle, and there are some excellent seating options particularly in the front few rows. The prices are sometime similar to those in the Stalls, but there is a wider range of prices depending on exactly where you sit and it can offer good value for money as a section. The section is divided into two halves by a central aisle. Best seats are towards the front and close to the centre.
The uppermost tier of the theatre is called the Upper Circle. The section is not recommended for those who have difficulty walking as it does require negotiating a lot of stairs; however, the majority of bargain seats are to be found in the Upper Circle, and although your views of the stage may be slightly impeded in some seats they are generally reasonable for the price.
AccessibilityThe Sondheim Theatre is set on three levels. The main Foyer is accessible by 1 step from street level. The Stalls are 21 steps down, the Dress Circle 18 steps above street level and the Upper Circle a further 39 steps up and is accessed by a side door. There are no lifts within this venue. Step free access to the auditorium is available by a side door on Wardour Street – please ask a member of staff at the theatre who will kindly assist you. There is space for carers and partners in all sections which can often be discounted. Please check with our team for full information, as this can change from show to show. Discounts and concessions are available for all access tickets, but these can vary depending on times of year.
Wheelchair users have the option of transferring to a seat in row D, and the wheelchair can be stored until the end of the performance by a staff member. If you wish to stay in your wheelchair, specially designed spaces are situated in the Lodges, and can accommodate wheelchairs 1 metre in length and 64 cm wide.A fully accessible toilet is on the foyer level of the theatre, accessed via a ramped corridor. Please ask a member of staff at the theatre for the exact location. Unfortunately the foyer bar is not accessible, although drinks can be brought to your seat during the interval.
The theatre is fitted with a hearing loop infra-red system, and has 12 headsets available to hire for each performance. A £5 returnable deposit is required to use these whilst in the theatre. Guide dogs are allowed into the auditorium, or can be left with a member of staff at your request.Access bookings telephone line +44 (0) 344 482 5137 or access booking form
HistoryFormerly the Queen's Theatre, the Sondheim Theatre is located along London’s most famous theatre strip, the historic Shaftesbury Avenue in the heart of the city’s West End. Opened in 1907, the theatre was intended as a twin for the recent Gielgud Theatre and both buildings were designed by the architect W. G. R. Sprague, with the venue being decorated in an Edwardian Renaissance style incorporating an impressive facade. After a slow start with a poorly-received production of a play called The Sugar Bowl, the Theatre went on to become a central venue for top entertainment with hit shows including Tango Teas, Potash and Perlmutter and The Fanatics gracing the stage in the succeeding decades. The theatre also put on classic Shakespearean and Restoration drama and witnessed performances from the best acting talent of the era including John Gielgud, Fred Astaire, Kenneth Branagh, Marlene Dietrich, Alec Guinness, Laurence Olivier, Basil Rathbone and Maggie Smith, amongst other huge talents.
In 1940 during the Second World War the theatre was hit by a bomb, destroying the front of the building and plunging it into darkness and inactivity that was to last 20 years. However following £250,000 worth of refurbishments the theatre reopened in 1959 and continued its previous success with a string of esteemed dramatic and musical productions. In the opening years of the 21st century, it has played host to a number of innovative productions including The Hobbit, Contact, The Rocky Horror Show, Cyberjam, The Taming of the Shrew and The Tamer Tamed. In 2004 the musical Les Misérables transferred to the theatre following an 18-year run at the nearby Palace Theatre and has remained there ever since, overtaking Cats as London’s longest-running show in the process.
In July 2019 the theatre (still called The Queen's Theatre at the time) was closed for refurbishment, opening again under the new name of the Sondheim Theatre in December of that year.