Theatre Royal Drury Lane
The Theatre Royal Drury Lane that we see today opened on 10 Oct. 1812. However, this was not the first theatre on this site – there have been four theatres at this location since 1663. Today’s building was designed by Benjamin Wyatt and is the only theatre in London to have two royal boxes in the auditorium.
Over the life of this incarnation of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, the venue has become heavily associated with musical theatre. Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals played in succession from 1947 starting with Oklahoma!, Carousel in 1950, South Pacific in 1951 and The King and I closed the series with a three year run ending in 1956. The transfer of musicals from Broadway continued in 1958 with Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady, starring Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison. The writing duo followed this up in 1964 with their next musical, Camelot.
Another Broadway transfer danced its way into Drury Lane in July 1976 - the Pulitzer Prize winning A Chorus Line came to London with its original Broadway cast and played for almost three years, recasting roles with English talent throughout its run. Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street also made the move across the pond in 1980.
Short runs of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and The Pirates of Penzance followed in 1981 and 1982 respectively, but it was the arrival of the tap-dance heavy 42nd Street in 1984 that saw the theatre packed and reignited the flame for long-running shows. The show played for five years, before Miss Saigon moved in and played over 4,000 performances over a decade.
Recent musicals at Theatre Royal Drury Lane include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and an acclaimed revival of 42nd Street. After two years of refurbishment, the Theatre Royal Drury Lane reopened in 2021 with the West End premiere of Frozen.
Theatre Royal Drury Lane Seating Information
The auditorium has four levels – Stalls, Royal Circle, Grand Circle and Balcony.
The seats in Row S of the Stalls and onwards are affected by the overhang of the Royal Circle, but the Stalls do offer great views of the stage and the legroom is very good.
In the Royal Circle the view of the stage is affected from Row H onwards by the overhang of the Grand Circle. The seats do feel quite set back from the stage, but the view is generally very good.
The Upper Circle feels relatively close to the stage for its height and views from this level of the theatre are surprisingly good.
The Balcony is set very high up and although a strong rake helps to give good sightlines to the stage many people have suffered from vertigo at this level.