The Old Vic, originally named the Royal Coburg Theatre, was designed in 1818 by Rudolph Cabanel, where it stands now south-east of Waterloo Station. Its name was later changed to the Royal Victoria Theatre before it was rebuilt and renamed the Royal Victoria Hall in 1880. However at that time it was already nicknamed the Old Vic, and officially adopted that name in 1925. Following WWII, it was restored after air raid damage and became a Grade II listed building.
In 1963, the Old Vic became the home base of the National Theatre of Great Britain during its formation under Laurence Olivier, and continued to host the National Theatre until the move to South Bank in 1976. The Old Vic has housed acclaimed performances with such celebrated actors as John Gielgud’s Hamlet, Laurence Olivier’s Macbeth and Othello in 1937, and Judi Dench’s Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, which was privately performed for The Queen in 1957.
Kevin Spacey was appointed the first artistic director of The Old Vic Theatre Company in 2003. His programming included performances by Ian McKellen and Mark Gatiss. Recent hits for the Old Vic include Hedda Gabler, Groundhog Day and A Christmas Carol.
There are two entrances to the Old Vic: one on The Cut and the other on Waterloo Road, which is an accessible entrance. In 2019, 'Penny', an accessible basement cafe and bar was opened, offering drinks, sandwiches and snacks.
The auditorium has three levels - Stalls, Dress Circle and the Lilian Baylis Circle.
Despite the Dress Circle overhanging over Stalls row T, this doesn’t affect the view due to pillars. There is also a staggered rake that will be noticeable from row J to allow better viewing.
The Lilian Baylis Circle is high above the ground and overhangs the Dress Circle at row C meaning row E will miss the top of the stage. It should be noted that the two rows that extend along the sides of the theatre are padded concrete benches with only a rail to lean on.
There are also standing seats available at the sides of this circle.
Location: West End Railway station: Waterloo Bus numbers: (Waterloo Road) 1, 4, 26, 59, 68, 139, 168, 171, 172, 176, 188, 521, X68; (Mepham Street) 211, 243, 507 Night bus numbers: (Waterloo Road) 139, 176, 188, N1, N68, N171; (Mepham Street) 243 Car park: Waterloo Station (4mins) Directions from tube: (7mins) Take Mepham Street (100 metres) down to Waterloo Road. Turn right on Waterloo Road, but keep left as the theatre is 100 metres further along on the opposite corner.