What you need to know about Theatre Royal Haymarket:
Theatre Royal Haymarket is a Grade I listed playhouse that you will find just off Piccadilly Circus. It’s one of the most beautiful London theatres. With seats for 893 people, it provides a surprisingly intimate theatrical experience. Since 2007, the theatre has produced its own shows as well as welcoming in touring productions. Recently, the Royal Shakespeare Company have been regular visitors.
Despite being one of the grandest theatres in the capital, Theatre Royal Haymarket started life so modestly it was known as ‘The little Theatre in the Hay’. The carpenter John Potter built it in 1720. It struggled for several years, but achieved its break when the Duke of Montague arrived in London and found most theatres unwilling to put on a French play. In 1729 it had its first hit, a production of Hurlothrumbo that played for 30 nights. Its fate turned downwards again with the censorship bill in 1737, which effectively caused the theatre to close. It reopened in 1740 thanks to Charley Macklin (famous for murdering another actor in a row over a wig at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane) who set up a drama school there.
The theatre received its royal patent in possibly the most bizarre way imaginable. Samuel Foote, the owner of the theatre, was at a royal hunting party when he was given a particularly wild horse as a joke. The prank went wrong when Foote was thrown from the horse and broke his leg so badly it had to be amputated. The Duke of York was horrified by the accident and asked Foote what he could do to make amends. Foote requested a royal patent for the theatre, which George III grumpily granted (but only for the summer months and only whilst Foote was alive). The actor-manager wrote a series of plays specifically involving one-legged roles. Titles included The Lame Love and The Devil On Two Sticks.
The theatre began its transformation into the building it is today in 1821 when it reopened having been ambitiously moved slightly south of where it originally was. The main change was that this new building, designed by John Nash, included a striking façade and an new ornate interior including two marble pillars supporting the proscenium arch. C. Stanley Peach, who favoured a Louis XVI style, redesigned the auditorium in 1904. Today, visitors can marvel at the opulent gold fixtures and lush purple tones used on the seats and, in some areas, wallpaper. In short – it’s gorgeous.
Top facts about Theatre Royal Haymarket:
- The next generation of stars working behind the scenes in theatre can hone their skills with the Theatre Royal Haymarket’s Masterclass programme. One of their recent projects involved working with Bravo 22 who use theatre as a tool to help injured service men and women.
- John Nash, who designed the current Theatre Royal Haymarket, also designed Brighton Pavilion and Buckingham Palace.
- In 1949, a riot occurred and the theatre was gutted after an advertised act didn’t arrive on stage. Audiences had turned up to watch a show involving a man getting inside a wine bottle.
Key information about Theatre Royal Haymarket:
Tube: Theatre Royal Haymarket is almost equal distance from Piccadilly Circus (Bakerloo and Piccadilly lines) and Charing Cross (Bakerloo and Northern lines). Both stations are a little over a five minute walk from the venue.
Train: Charing Cross train station on The Strand is a five minute walk from the venue.
Bus: Bus numbers 6, 13, 15, 23, 139, 159 and also 453 all travel close to the theatre. Visit the Transport for London website to plan your journey in more detail.
Q-Park car parks can be found at:
Chinatown – 20 Newport Place, WC2H 7PR
Soho – Poland Street, W1F 7NQ
Trafalgar – Spring Gardens, SW1A 2TS
Leicester Square – Whitcomb Street, WC2H 7DT
Q-Park offers discounted parking for ticket-holders visiting participating West End theatres. The Theatre Royal Haymarket is part of the Q-Park Theatreland Parking Scheme.
NCP car parks can be found at:
Shaftesbury – Selkirk House, Museum Street, WC1A 1JR
Covent Garden – Parker Street, WC2B 5NT
The closest car park to the theatre is: Q-Park Trafalgar.
The closest on-street disabled parking spaces is on Suffolk Street and Charles II Street.
Theatre Royal Haymarket is wheelchair accessible through a side entrance on Haymarket. Please let the Duty Manager or box office know when you arrive so that they can make sure the door is open. This entrance takes you directly into the Stalls where wheelchair spaces are available towards the rear of the auditorium.
You can find the accessible toilet on the Stalls level.
Working dogs are welcome in the theatre, but you cannot take them into the auditorium. The theatre is happy to arrange for a member of staff to dog sit for them throughout the performance.
The theatre has an infra-red hearing system. You can borrow headsets from the Front of House desk for a £10.00 deposit, which they will refund at the end of the performance.
Theatre Royal Haymarket provides access discounts, but not on all price bands of tickets. To discuss arrangements and book tickets, please contact the box office on the number provided above.
Theatre Royal Haymarket has its own bars where visitors can buy drinks and snacks before the performance and during the interval. You can find these in the Stalls, Royal Circle, and Upper Circle/Gallery.
The theatre also offers a selection of hospitality packages for guests to have refreshments in the Oscar Wilde Room or the Royal Receiving Room.
If you’re looking for somewhere to eat beforehand, you’re in the middle of a number of options in nearby Chinatown, Leicester Square and also Covent Garden, where a number of places do special pre-theatre menus.