History of Theatre Royal Drury Lane:
The history of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane spans over 350 years and 4 different buildings. The first was ordered by King Charles II and opened in 1663 (named the Theatre Royal, Bridges Street). It burnt down in 1672. The second theatre (now titled the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane) was built in 1674. It hosted a vast number of productions during its 117-year run, including The Merchant of Venice (which introduced a naturalistic style of acting), The School for Scandal (1777, its world premiere), and Robinson Crusoe. The acting troupe of 1710 (Cibber, Wilks, and Doggett) found themselves the primary object of ridicule in Alexander Pope’s satirical epic the Dunciad.
Plans to upgrade and expand the theatre led to its demolition in 1791. The new theatre, now with space for over 3,600 audience members, opened in 1794. The size of the venue allowed it to house spectacular set pieces, including real running water forming a stream and a lake. Despite housing the first ever iron safety curtain, the theatre burned down in 1809.
The present Theatre Royal opened on 10 October 1812 with a production of Hamlet. Over the years it has presented the work of Ivor Norvello (1931-1939), Rodgers and Hammerstein (1946-1958), and a Monty Python reunion show. In the 21st Century, it has played host to a number of successful musicals, including The Producers, Oliver! and Shrek. It is believed to be one of Britain’s most haunted theatres, with 4 different spirits sighted by actors backstage.