LocationThe Theatre Royal is excellently located for tourists wishing to explore London’s centre, situated as it is in between Covent Garden market and The Strand. Covent Garden is a fantastic place to while away the hours before a show – there are numerous high street shops including a huge Kurt Geiger for shoe fanatics and more offbeat boutiques like Rokit or Pop Boutique just around the corner, and a market in the centre. If you have kids in tow, there is a Disney store, street performers and sometimes even interactive art installations on offer, and the London Transport Museum is also off the main square. Perhaps most importantly, there is a brilliant selection of restaurants and bars to suit every taste and budget, all conveniently close to the theatre for that pre-show meal.
Getting thereBy Tube: The nearest station to access the Theatre Royal from is Covent Garden, which can be found on the Piccadilly Line. From here it is a short 5 minute walk to the theatre.By bus: Numbers 1, 4, 6, 9, 11, 13, 15, 23, 26, 68, 76, 77A, 168, 171, 171A and 176 all stop close to the theatre.By taxi or car: If you opt to arrive at the theatre via taxi the main entrance is on Catherine Street and not Drury Lane. There are single yellow lines where you can park on Catherine Street Russell Street, which has another entrance to the theatre, but as these may be full there is also a National Car Park on Drury Lane.
SeatingThe Theatre Royal enjoys a large seating capacity for over 2000 people, spread across four different levels: the Stalls, Grand Circle, Upper Circle and Balcony. You can see the basic layout of the theatre and the distance of each level from the stage using the seating plan on the right. From this it is evident that the Stalls are the best place to secure a seat if you really want to feel like you are in the midst of the action. As a result, you can expect to pay the top prices for a seat here, especially if you want to be in the front half of the section, although it is often worth it to give you an impression of the production as it is meant to be experienced. The Stalls are divided into a front and rear section by a wide aisle running the width of the auditorium. Each of those sections is then divided into three, providing a wide and lengthy section. The best seats are those at the front of the rear section around row K-N as they provide great views of the stage, with a moderate rake throughout the auditorium. There are a number of pillars at row YY which can cause obstructions, along with the overhang of the Grand Circle above.
The next tier of seating is the Grand Circle, in which there are still some very good views to be had at a slightly cheaper rate. If you can manage to get a seat in the front few rows of this section, you will arguably have the best view in the house as the height enables you to see more of the stage at once. The section is relatively low for a circle, providing almost eye contact level views of the action. The boxes surround this section and offer varying quality of views.
The Upper Circle is further back from the stage and higher up, meaning that you are somewhat distanced from the performances beneath you; however, there are some good deals to be had on seats in this area and if you are prepared to sacrifice a little it can be well worth it overall. The section is divided into three blocks by aisle running length-ways. The overhang from the balcony does restrict the rear of the section, as do pillars in the final two rows.
The Balcony is at the very top of the theatre, and is not recommended for those who do not like heights. Some seats may have restricted viewing or require you to lean forward to see the stage. Nonetheless, prices are normally slashed accordingly and if you don’t want to spend a lot, the Balcony can accommodate most budgets. From the middle of the Balcony back you can see over the safety rails, and although you will seem far back, the view of the stage is unobstructed.
AccessibilityOne of London’s largest theatres, the Theatre Royal Drury Lane has seating spread across 4 levels; the Stalls, Grand Circle, Upper Circle and Balcony. There are 6 steps to the foyer from the main entrance, although there is an alternative level entrance on Russell Street that has a bell on the outside and can be opened by theatre staff. From the main foyer there are 20 steps down then 17 steps up to the Stalls, 39 steps up to the Dress Circle and 61 steps up to the Upper Circle. Discounted rates are available for all disabled patrons and their carers.
Wheelchair users should use the level access entrance on Russell Street, which leads directly to the left hand side of the Stalls. From here there are 4 dedicated spaces for wheelchair users at L1, L35, K1 and K35, with space for companions to sit in the same row. Transfer seating is available to any aisle seat in the Stalls section, and wheelchairs and scooters can be stored in the Stalls store room. There are a maximum of two transfer spaces for scooter users. An adapted toilet can be found inside the Russell Street entrance, and whilst all the theatre bars can only be reached via stairs it is possible for disabled guests to be brought drinks in their seats.
There is an induction loop point at the Box Office, and an infra-red system is installed inside the auditorium. Headsets are available from the main foyer. Guide dogs are allowed to accompany their owners inside the auditorium, or alternatively a maximum of 4 dogs can be looked after inside the manager’s office for the duration of each performance.Access bookings telephone line 020 7492 9930 or access booking form
HistoryThe Theatre Royal on Drury Lane is the oldest in London, and therefore an extremely important building both historically and in terms of its theatrical output. Dating back to 1663, the theatre has had an exciting past and many transformations, with the current building being the fourth on the same site due to previous incarnations being destroyed or burnt down. Thankfully fire safety precautions are not what they once were and the Grade I-listed Theatre Royal now stands as both a monument to the longevity of London theatre and a host to some of the city’s best new musicals and plays.
From its early beginnings in spoken plays and dramas, the theatre today has much more of a musical focus, due in no small part to its ownership by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s LW Theatres. Miss Saigon, the musical version of the operatic classic Madame Butterfly, ran for an impressive 10 years before being succeeded by The Producers. Since then, the theatre has staged an ambitious musical adaptation of The Lord of the Rings and a new version of an old favourite in Oliver!, which closed in January 2011 in preparation for a family-friendly musical reimagination of blockbuster Shrek.
In May 2013, Lloyd Webber revealed a £4m restoration of the theatre to mark its 350th anniversary. The theatre reopened in 2013 with a brand new musical production of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory directed by Sam Mendes which continues to delight audiences.