PIN Drury Lane Theatre

London`s most famous Theatre?

Since 1663, Royal Drury Lane Theatre has provided entertainment for the masses and has been visited by every monarch since the Restoration.

The Theatre has not one, but two royal boxes and it was here that the Public first heard both the National Anthem and Rule Britannia. Previous buildings were managed by the great actor David Garrick and the famous playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan; the current (fourth) building was opened in 1812.

The Theatre was renowned for its spectacular Victorian melodramas and pantomimes, but since the 1920s its history has mirrored the development of the modern musical: from the original London productions of American musicals Rose Marie, The Desert Song and Show Boat through Ivor Novello’s romantic operettas and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s groundbreaking post-war shows to The Producers and The Lord of the Rings. My Fair Lady held the record as the Theatre`s longest run for many years, but Cameron Mackintosh’s record breaking production of Miss Saigon is the current record holder at 10 years. After Shrek the Musical, the latest family spectacular show is Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory directed by Sam Mendes.

Early History

The Theatre celebrated its 350th year of operation on 7 May 2013: the current building had its 200th birthday in October 2012.

The first theatre was erected in 1663 by Thomas Killigrew, who had received a patent from King Charles II. We still operate under this Royal Charter today and a copy is proudly displayed, although the original is now in the safe-keeping of the V&A Theatre and Performance Collections. This building, about the current size of the present stage was visited by Samuel Pepys and was where Charles II first encountered Nell Gwynne who made her debut on the stage in 1665. It was short-lived, being destroyed by fire in 1672.

Killigrew built a second theatre, opening in 1674 and remaining in operation for 117 years. This building witnessed the triumphs of Thomas Betterton who played Hamlet when he was over 70, Charles Macklin who murdered a fellow actor in the Green Room and lived to be over 100, Peg Woffington, Mrs Jordan, Sarah Siddons and Charles Kemble. David Garrick became the manager in 1747 and introduced many reforms, which have shaped modern theatre. He ruled the roost for 29 years and was succeeded in 1776 by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, whose best known play, The School for Scandal received its first performance here in 1777.

Sheridan oversaw the demolition of the ageing building and its replacement by a larger theatre to seat 3,600 people, designed by Henry Holland. It opened in March 1794 with a performance of sacred music by Handel, because theatrical performances were banned during Lent. This building boasted the world’s first safety curtain, but still burned down only 15 years later, bringing Sheridan’s management and personal fortune to the ground along with it.

The fourth and present building opened in 1812. It was designed by Benjamin Wyatt and the front of House areas today are much as they were at the first performance.


  • Culture
  • , Theatreland
  • , Downtown Westminster


Lucy is a TripTide stalwart and has been with the company since inception. She is a font of knowledge of all things in our metropolis but she has a special penchant for London's historical past. She says:"London is a multi-layered confection of hi...


Theatre Royal Drury Lane Catherine Street London WC2B 5JF, Catherine Street , London , WC2B 5JF (View on Google Maps)
Central London

from £31.50-75.00 per person

Recent Reviews

"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"

Left me wanting more (chocolate)

Reviewed by Peter 7 years ago