A complete guide to the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre

Get to know this fun, flexible north London venue ahead of its much-anticipated revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Starlight Express this summer.

Marianka Swain
Marianka Swain

As much as we adore all of the historic theatres that make up London’s West End and beyond, it’s also exciting when we get a new venue – especially if it’s one that allows for completely different kinds of staging.

The Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre, which was converted from a TV studio, is a prime example. This huge, flexible space has already accommodated a wide variety of shows, from Rambert’s dance take on Peaky Blinders and the National Theatre’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time to the Olivier-winning musical Newsies.

Next up is the hugely anticipated revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Starlight Express. Yes, that’s the one where actors wear roller skates and play trains. The Troubadour will be transformed into the Starlight Auditorium, immersing audiences in this high-speed spectacular.

It’s definitely a must-see, so start planning your Starlight Express trip now, and ahead of your visit, learn all about this unique venue.

Book Starlight Express tickets on London Theatre.

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Get to know the history of Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre

Before it was a theatre, this building – which is situated in north London, close to Wembley Park station – had a long and fascinating history as a studio.

Ralph J Pugh and Rupert Mason originally had high hopes of it being a major movie studio complex, in the American model, when they bought a lease for the space in 1927. But they lost their funding, and the following year Victor Sheridan took on the lease – albeit with similar aims for British Talking Pictures.

The three studios at Wembley were the first purpose-built sound studios in Britain. However, a fire caused major damage, and the space was little used until American film company Fox bought it in 1936. Fox did lease the space to independent companies as well, so Ealing Studios’s Ships with Wings was filmed there in 1941.

In 1955, Associated-Rediffusion took over the space and used it for filming ITV weekday programmes. Ready Steady Go!, Take Your Pick, The Rat Catchers, and The Frost Report were all shot there, and The Beatles even made an appearance.

The space then became known as Fountain Studios, home to Ready Steady Cook, The Day Today and children’s show Wizadora, and later to talent show juggernauts like The X Factor, Pop Idol and Britain’s Got Talent. In 2016, it was sold to a property developer.

Three years later, in 2019, the new state-of-the-art Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre opened. It has a capacity of around 1,000-2,000, depending on how it’s configured, and it offers plenty of options for imaginative staging.

That’s rare for a London theatre, and it means that it can accommodate transferring shows which need a flexible layout, rather than just proscenium arch, and it can also give directors of new productions the freedom to explore.

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Productions at Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre

There have already been plenty of productions at this fantastic new venue, and a broad range too – proving that you can stage all kinds of shows here. They include:

  • War Horse, 2019: The National Theatre’s multi-award-winning production featuring astonishing puppetry had a London run at the newly opened Troubadour.
  • Dinosaur World Live, 2019: There was fun for all the family when this interactive adventure rocked up with its roar-some puppets and prehistoric discoveries.
  • Fame The Musical, 2019-20: The iconic show about aspiring performers stopped in at the Troubadour as part of its 30th-anniversary tour, led by Mica Paris.
  • The Wedding Singer, 2020: Strictly Come Dancing pro Kevin Clifton led this stage adaptation, a Leicester Curve production directed by Nick Winston.
  • __Sleepless, 2020:__ Morgan Young directed a musical version of the classic romcom Sleepless in Seattle, starring Jay McGuiness and Kimberley Walsh.
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, 2021-22: Another National Theatre production, this time its hit adaptation of Simon Stephens’s novel, ran at the Troubadour ahead of a 10th-anniversary UK tour.
  • Peaky Blinders: The Redemption of Thomas Shelby, 2022: Rambert Dance brought their dynamic new dance version of the popular TV series to the Troubadour following its Birmingham Hippodrome premiere.
  • Newsies, 2022-23: The Troubadour’s biggest hit to date, this UK premiere of the stirring Disney musical about the newsboys’ strike was staged in the round. Matt Cole won an Olivier Award for his high-flying choreography.

Starlight Express at Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre

Coming down the track in 2024 is a brand-new version of the 1984 musical Starlight Express. Featuring a score by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe, it ran for 18 years in the West End, although there were changes to the production over the years.

Now director Luke Sheppard (& Juliet, The Little Big Things) is bringing us a fresh take on the show, with original choreographer Arlene Phillips assisting as a creative dramaturg.

The theatre will become the purpose-built Starlight Auditorium, and this space definitely has plenty of room for train tracks and anything else that the creative team want to throw into the mix. It should be a real immersive event – so full steam ahead!

Starlight Express 1200 LT Photo credit Pamela Raith

Where to eat and drink before a show at Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre

The venue is part of a new cultural hub, so it’s a fun, thriving area to visit. There’s a bar and a restaurant within the actual theatre space, but the most fun dining option is next door.

That’s the Boxpark: a huge selection of street food vendors, all under one roof – everything from poké, burritos, pizza, and kebabs to burgers, Thai noodles, bubble tea, and churros.

What you need to visit Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre

You’ll find pretty much everything on site, including a nice big bar, a cloakroom, and (bliss!) loads of loos.

It’s a short walk from Wembley Park station, so very easy to get to. The station is on the Jubilee and Metropolitan Tube lines. You can also travel to Wembley Stadium station, which is on the Chiltern Railways line, and that’s about a 15-minute walk to the theatre.

Get tickets to shows at Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre

Your next chance to visit this fun venue is Starlight Express, which plays from June 2024. If you haven’t booked yet, get your skates on!

Book Starlight Express tickets on London Theatre.

Photo credit: Newsies (Johan Persson), Starlight Express cast (Pamela Raith)

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