Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

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What you need to know about Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre:

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre opened in 1932. It’s one of the biggest theatres in London with seats for over 1,200 people. It opens during the summer months and has become as quintessentially linked to summer in London as a glass of Pimms on Henman Hill.

Its first full season was in 1932. During the Second World War it only staged matinees due to the blackout. It did, however, remain open throughout the entire war, making it one of only two theatres in London (the other being the Windmill Theatre) to do so.

Over the years there’s been a lot of Shakespeare on the bill. In 1984, the theatre produced its first musical, Bashville. It was a sign of good things to come. In recent years the theatre has built a reputation with a string of hugely successful musical theatre hits. Among these are acclaimed productions of Into The Woods, Hello Dolly!, Crazy For You and Jesus Christ Superstar.

The space has transformed over time. In 1953, it swapped tents for brick dressing rooms. Then in 1974, the fixed amphitheatre-style auditorium still in place today was built. In 2000, a major programme of redevelopment began, refurbishing the auditorium and other areas, and building the Robert Atkins Studio. In 2012, another major redevelopment project was completed creating a new box office, dressing room complex and office suite.

The theatre is, of course, at the mercy of the weather gods. A stunning sunset or a intense storm can add another level of drama to the show. The theatre advises coming prepared for all weathers, including sun cream and shades for the afternoon, and a jumper for the end of the evening. They very rarely cancel a show because of the weather, however they do, on occasion, pause and re-start.

Timothy Sheader is the venue’s Artistic Director.

Top facts about Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre:

  1. This theatre is the only professional outdoor theatre in Britain. All of the stage and seating are entirely uncovered (Shakespeare’s Globe, for instance, has at least part of the seating and stage covered). 
  1. In 2017, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre won The Stage Award for London Theatre of the Year.
  1. More than 140,000 people visit Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre each year. Considering it’s only open during the summer, that’s pretty impressive.
  1. Since 1932, the theatre has hosted more than 50 different productions of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Key information about Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre: 

Transport:

Tube: The closest tube station is Baker Street (Bakerloo, Circle, Hammersmith & City, Jubilee and Metropolitan lines), which is approximately 10 minutes walk from the theatre. Alternately, use Regent’s Park (Bakerloo line) or Great Portland Street (Hammersmith & City, Circle and Metropolitan lines).

Train: The closest mainline train station is Marylebone, which is a 15 minute walk.

Bus: Bus numbers 13, 18, 27, 30, 74, 82, 113, 139, 189, 274 all go to Baker Street and bus numbers 18, 205, 27, 30, 453 and also N18 all go along Marylebone Road. To plan your journey in more detail, please visit the Transport for London website.

Parking: Parking is available on the Inner Circle, Outer Circle and Chester Road. It is free after 6:30pm and free to Blue Badge holders and motorcycles all day. The theatre advises the Chester Road is often the best road to look for spaces on. The theatre is outside of the congestion charge zone.

Accessibility info:  

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is fully wheelchair accessible. There are spaces available in the auditorium for wheelchair users which can be booked via the access line phone number given below.

Working dogs are welcome in all areas, and can either stay with their owners or you can arrange for a member of staff to look after them.

There is an FM assisted listening system available for people with hearing impairments. Handsets are available for a £5.00 deposit and the theatre asks that you request them when booking tickets with the box office.

To discuss all access requirements and to book tickets, please phone the access line on 0844 826 4242. There is also an access booking form available on the Open Air Theatre’s website.

Accessibility discount?

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre charges visitors with access requirements and their companion Price B and E for all performances, regardless of which seat they are allocated. This means that for some performances you do pay less, whereas for others, where the price is already fixed at the same flat rate for everyone, you do not. To book these tickets please contact the access line on the number given above. 

Access performances:

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre runs captioned performances and audio described performances.

Facilities:  

One of the best things about a trip to Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is enjoying some delicious food and drink beforehand in the landscaped grounds of the theatre. You can’t take food into the auditorium, but there are a variety of tasty options available to have before the show and during the interval. This includes booking in advance to eat in the covered dining area, a fairy light-covered terrace where visitors can eat dinner before the show, then return during the interval for dessert and coffee.

Other options include the Regent’s Park barbeque (seriously, it’s a theatre with a barbeque, what’s not to like?). Meat and vegetarian options are available and you can save money and time by buying a voucher in advance.

Alternatively, try the Summer Café, an informal dining area that is open until 15 minutes before a performance. They offer a range of sandwiches, salads and (of course) strawberries and cream for pudding.

Last but not least, maybe the very best thing about a trip to Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is the opportunity to have a picnic. The theatre offers a range of different options if you want to splash out and have them provide the hamper, or you can bring along your own food.

With the sun (hopefully) blazing down, you’re also going to need something to drink. The theatre has a pre-theatre drinks service where you can order drinks, including champagne and wine, to be ready when you arrive.

For more information visit the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s website.