The A-Z list of theatres in the West End
Learn all about the 38 theatres in the West End, as we take you on a whistlestop tour of the venues throughout Theatreland. From the theatre with the smallest capacity to the eldest West End playhouse that’s still standing, impress all your friends with your London theatre knowledge by reading our guide.
All about the West End theatres
The Adelphi is the fourth playhouse to be in this iconic location on the Strand. From The Sans Pareil Theatre which opened in 1806, it has been demolished and rebuilt twice in 1867 and later in 1930, when it was called the Royal Adelphi Theatre. With the ‘Royal’ title dropped in 1940, the Adelphi welcomes a maximum capacity of 1436 performers to shows at the venue.
Current production: Waitress
Built in 1905 on Aldwych and with 1176 seats, it was designed in an Edwardian style to reflect the time it was built in. Notable moments in the theatre’s history include a 21-year residency of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Current production: Tina the Musical
With just 444 seats, the Ambassadors is one of the smallest theatres in the West End. Opened in 1913, it houses intimate productions allowing the audience to get closer to the action. After a long tenure of Stomp that saw performances run for over 10 years, the theatre regularly welcomes shows that are transferring from outside of the West End into a London venue.
Current production: The Twilight Zone
The Apollo Theatre first opened its doors in 1901, specifically built to house West End musicals to a maximum capacity of 775. Located on Shaftesbury Avenue, the Apollo Theatre was recently reopened in 2014 after the ceiling collapsed during a performance of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in the previous year.
Current production: Everybody’s Talking about Jamie
With 2384 seats, the Apollo Victoria is one of the largest theatres in the West End. It has been home to grand productions including an 18 year run of Starlight Express, where the theatre was renovated in order to incorporate a skating rink.
Current production: Wicked
Find out more about the Apollo Victoria Theatre here.
At a capacity of 350 seats, the Arts Theatre holds the title as the smallest West End playhouse. At first, it was a members-only club, meaning shows would only be performed to those who had been granted access. Revoking this once issues surrounding censorship were relaxed, productions at the Arts are typically short-running shows.
Current production: Six
Count down to the Arts Theatre with our guide on the 10 smallest theatres in the West End.
One of five West End theatres to open in 1930, the Cambridge has a capacity of 1283. Restored in 1987 to build upon the ornate designs inside the venue, recent shows at the venue include Jerry Springer – The Opera and the final years of Chicago’s original West End tenure.
Current production: Matilda the Musical
Built to serve as a concert hall in London, the Criterion opened its doors in 1873 welcoming audiences to see comedic operas written by leading figures including Gilbert and Sullivan. Rebuilt at the later end of the 19th century and again renovated during the 1980s, the theatre has 593 seats and is located in the heart of Piccadilly Circus.
Current production: The Comedy About a Bank Robbery
Located at the end of Tottenham Court Road and close by to Oxford Street, the Dominion stands as one of the largest playhouses with 2069 seats. First opening in 1929, productions would not have long tenures in the West End. More recently, shows including We Will Rock You have stood the test of time, playing for 12 years.
Coming soon: Big the Musical
With more plays than musical taking place inside the Duchess since it opened in 1929, it has seen a number of famous people on its stage including Michael Gambon and Mark Rylance. It is now home to Mischief Theatre’s first West End show, who are continually extending their presence across London theatre.
Current production: The Play That Goes Wrong
Duke of York’s
First known as the Trafalgar Square Theatre, the venue was renamed in 1895 in a nod to King George V and has since been home to a range of musicals, plays and operas including Posh and Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour. Located right in the heart of Theatreland on St Martin’s Lane, it has been home to no fewer than 40 shows since 2006!
Current production: Rosmersholm
Opened in 1924, the Fortune was the first theatre to be built in the capital after World War One. Even though it has a rich history including members of the armed forces visiting in order to watch live shows during World War Two, The Woman in Black’s continuous run is no mean feat, and is currently the second longest running play in the West End.
Current production: The Woman in Black
Named after the esteemed British actor David Garrick, the theatre is located at the end of Charing Cross Road near to Trafalgar Square and has a capacity of 718. In recent decades, many comedic plays have ran at the venue, including a four year run of No Sex, Please We’re British. More recently, productions directed by Kenneth Branagh took residency for a year, with plays including Romeo and Juliet and A Winter’s Tale.
Current production: Rip it Up
First opened as the Hicks Theatre in 1906, it was later renamed to the Globe before the final rename of the Gielgud in 1994 to commemorate John Gielgud and avoid confusion with the Shakespearean playhouse. Some of the most successful shows to have played here include There’s A Girl in my Soup and Daisy Pulls it Off.
Current production: Sweat
Renamed from the New London to the Gillian Lynne in 2018 to memoralise choreographer Gillian Lynne in the West End, the theatre originally opened in 1847 as the Mogul Music Hall. In its recent history, productions taking place include Cats starring Elaine Paige as Grizabella and War Horse from 2009 to 2016.
Current production: School of Rock
First named the Comedy Theatre, the name was changed in 2011 in acknowledgment to the works of Harold Pinter. The venue has a capacity of 796 and recent productions at the venue include a two year run of Sunny Afternoon and the National Theatre transfer of Oslo.
Current production: Betrayal
There has been a theatre on the site since 1705, however Her Majesty’s opened its doors in 1897. Designed in a style to reflect its predecessors, Her Majesty’s has welcomed a maximum capacity of 1160 through its door for each performance of The Phantom of the Opera, which has played a continuous run since 1986.
Current production: The Phantom of the Opera
With 2,286 seats, the Palladium first welcomed audience members through its doors in 1910. Ever since, the theatre has gained a reputation for staging televised variety shows including and Sunday Night at the London Palladium where Bruce Forsyth made his name. Recently, Christmastime at the Palladium has been home to pantomimes including Cinderella and Dick Whittington.
Upcoming production: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Even though there has been a playhouse on the site since 1834, the building was renovated in 1904, newly opening its doors as the Lyceum. Although it was nearly closed at the start of World War Two, the theatre was rescued in 1951 and turned into a ballroom with musicians taking to the stage. The Lion King has played since 1999 and is one of the longest-running musicals in the West End.
Current production: The Lion King
The eldest of six theatres located on Shaftesbury Avenue, the Lyric is full of history with shows being performed at the venue from the late 19th century. The venue still retains its historical appearance today and has seen plenty of comedic operas, musicals and plays on its stage. Notable shows at the Lyric include a five-month run of Blood Brothers in 1983 that went on to win best new musical at the Olivier Awards.
Current production: Thriller Live
Opening at the turn of the 20th century, the venue has 872 seats and was first called the New Theatre and has been renamed twice with the Albery (1973) and its current name (2005). The theatre was home to the West End premiere of Oliver in 1960, with the production going on to run for 2,618 performances.
Located on Aldwych, the Novello has 1143 seats. After name changes throughout the 20th century flipping between the Strand and the Whitney, it was eventually decided upon the Novello in 2005.
Current production: Mamma Mia
With a capacity of 1,400 people, the Palace was opened in 1891 as the “Royal English Opera House”. Over the 20th century, the theatre began to see musicals appear more frequently with shows including The Sound of Music, Cabaret and the West End premiere of Les Miserables before it transferred to the Queens Theatre.
Current production: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
With just over 1,000 seats, the Phoenix Theatre is located on Charing Cross Road and opened in 1930 with a performance of Private Lives starring Laurence Olivier. In 1991, the Phoenix was home to Blood Brothers which played for 21 years. Since then, the theatre has been home to shorter-running musicals including Once, Dirty Dancing and Guys and Dolls.
Current production: Come From Away
Opening in 1928, the theatre had to be rebuilt in the 1940s after being destroyed in World War Two. In past decades, Broadway transfers regularly found themselves at the theatre including Man of La Mancha alongside television broadcasts of the ITV variety show Live from the Piccadilly.
Current production: The Lehman Trilogy
Built as the Royal Avenue Theatre in 1882, the theatre had to be rebuilt into the Playhouse Theatre in 1907, however the work killed six people due to part of Charing Cross station collapsing in the wind. Now with a reduced seating capacity of 786 from its original 1,200 seats, notable productions at the venue include An Inspector Calls in the 1990s.
Current production: Fiddler on the Roof
Opening in 1930, the theatre was named after Edward VIII, but later became a casino in the mid 1930s. Damaged from World War Two, the building had to be renovated and in 1954, it was eventually reopened as a cinema. Currently, the theatre has housed some of the biggest West End musicals in recent years, including Anything Goes and Mary Poppins.
Current production: Aladdin
Prince of Wales
Close by to Leicester Square is the Prince of Wales. The theatre has stood in London since 1937, with more seats added in due to the popularity of going to a show. Now with 1,100 seats, its history includes Barbra Streisand starring in the 1966 production of Funny Girl.
Current production: The Book of Mormon
After opening in 1907, the theatre was renovated and reopened in 1959 after major destruction during The Blitz. Les Miserables has ran in the venue since 2004, transferring from the Palace Theatre to upkeep its continuous West End tenure and solidify itself as London’s longest-running musical.
Current production: Les Miserables
Opening in 1929, the Savoy was the first theatre to have lighting done entirely by electricity. Throughout its history, the theatre has had to be renovated twice, with a grand opening in 1993. In recent years, the Savoy has seen a frequent turnover of new West End shows including Legally Blonde and Dreamgirls.
Current production: 9 to 5
Opening as the Princes Theatre in 1911, the theatre’s name was finally changed to the Shaftesbury in 1962. It reopened with How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying in the same year, but the building had to be closed again in 1973 after the ceiling fell in. In recent years, the playhouse has seen musicals including Hairspray, Rent and West Side Story.
Current production: The Illusionists
Opening with a production of the Edwardian comedy Houp La! in 1916, the theatre was built in partnership with the Ambassadors Theatre. The Mousetrap moved to St Martin’s from the Ambassadors in 1974, where it has played ever since and has not closed even with refurbishments taking place in the theatre.
Current production: The Mousetrap
Theatre Royal Drury Lane
There has been a playhouse on the site since 1663, but the theatre that stands today first opened in 1812. The venue has become heavily associated with musical theatre, with recent shows including 42nd Street, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Miss Saigon. The theatre is currently under refurbishment.
Theatre Royal Haymarket
First built in 1720, it was later rebuilt in 1821. The final West End playhouse to use candle light on stage, many plays and musicals have taken place here welcoming a maximum capacity of 888 including One Man, Two Guvnors and Waiting for Godot.
Current production: Only Fools and Horses
Originally named the Whitehall Theatre, there have been productions taking place at the site from 1930 including the Whitehall Follies who would perform for the military. In 2003, it was renovated into the Trafalgar Studios, with two studios housing a regularly-updated line up of shows.
Current production: Admissions
First opening in 1870, the building has been redone twice with the current standing in operation since 1926 and was previously the home of Vaudeville-style performances in the West End.
Current production: Emilia
Located close by to the Apollo Victoria, the Victoria Palace can seat up to 1517 theatregoers for one performance. Reconstructed in 1910, recent shows at the theatre include Billy Elliot featuring music by Elton John and is currently home to the American sensation Hamilton.
Current production: Hamilton
Although the playhouse opened in 1899, the first noteworthy production in its history was The Boyfriend. Opening in 1954, it ran for over 2,000 performances. Named after the commissioner Charles Wyndham, the building sits in the heart of Leicester Square, close by to the station.
Current production: The Starry Messenger