The Old Vic
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 in 1925. Following the Second World War it was restored after air raid damage and became a Grade II listed building.
Historically, in 1824 the Old Vic brought legendary actor Edmund Kean to perform six Shakespeare plays in six nights. In 1963 the Old Vic became the core of the National Theatre of Great Britain, during its formation under Laurence Olivier and continued to hold 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 and Richard II in 1929, Laurence Olivier’s Macbeth and Othello in 1937, Richard Burton’s Hamlet, Judi Dench’s Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, which was privately performed to The Queen in 1957 and Derek Jacobi’s Hamlet in 1977.
Kevin Spacey was appointed the first Artistic Director of The Old Vic Theatre Company in 2003, a company, which has seen admired performances such as Aladdin with Ian McKellen in 2004, John Osborne’s The Entertainer in 2007, in the same year staging All About My Mother starring Mark Gatiss and Lesley Manville. It has also housed The Bridge Project: The Cheery Orchard & the Winter’s Tale with Simon Russell Beale (2009), Other Desert Cities (2014), Much Ado About Nothing directed by Mark Rylance in 2013, Hedda Gabler starring Sheridan Smith in 2012, which recieved four-star reviews. and Kevin Spacey’s Richard III in 2011. In 2016 The Old Vic staged the world premiere of a new musical, Groundhog Day starring Andy Karl, with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin.
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 is also standing seats available at the sides of this circle.