The Royal Avenue Theatre (as the Playhouse was originally known) opened on 11 March 1882, beginning with a production of Madame Favart. The theatre would follow the model of staging comic operas, burlesques and farces until 1894, when George Bernard Shaw made his West end debut with Arms and the Man. The success of the play allowed him to pursue writing full-time. Rebuilding work began on the theatre in 1905, but suffered a setback after the roof and girders from the adjacent Charing Cross station broke through the wall, killing three workmen.
The theatre was finally repaired and reopened in 1907 under the new name The Playhouse on 28 January 1907, and began producing regular dramatic works (including 1934’s Libel!, which marked Alec Guinness’ stage debut).
The theatre was taken over by the BBC in 1951, and used as a live recording studio until 1976. Programs recorded during this period include Steptoe and Son, Hancock’s Half Hour, and The Goon Show.
Surviving threats of demolition, the theatre was restored and reopened in 1987. Whilst a musical (Girlfriends) was the opening production, the 1990’s were dominated by dramatic pieces, including The Rose Tattoo, Tartuffe, Jane Eyre, A Doll’s House, and The Wood Demon (its West End premiere).
After changing hands 5 times since its reopening, the theatre was purchased by Maidstone Productions in 2002, with the Ambassador Theatre Group managing the venue.
Wheelchair spaces and transfers available.
Are there adapted toilets?
An adapted toilet is available in the foyer.
Are there facilities for the hard-of-hearing?
There is an infrared system working throughout the auditorium with both loop and conventional headsets.
Are guide dogs and/or hearing dogs permitted?
Access dogs are allowed inside the auditorium. Staff dog-sitting available.
Please contact the theatre directly for further information.
The End Of Longing (2 February – 14 May 2016)
Lord Of The Dance – Dangerous Games (10 October 2015 – 24 January 2016)
The Rocky Horror Show (11 – 16 September 2016)
Women On the Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown (12 January – 23 May 2015)
1984 (28 April – 23 August 2014)
Monty Python’s Spamalot (14 November 2012 – 2014)
Dreamboats and Petticoats (6 January 2010 – 4 August 2012)
La Cage aux Folles (20 October 2008 – 2 January 2010)
The Harder They Come (23 March – 13 September 2008)
Ring Round the Moon (19 February – 29 March 2008)
The Adventures of Tintin (9 December 2007 – 12 January 2008)
Footloose – The Musical (17 August – 6 December 2007)