Stage stars pick their best London theatres

Who better to tip you off about the best London theatres, than the stars who perform on their stages?

1 / 1

In the capital, there’s a theatre to suit every taste and disposition. From massive venues holding multimillion-pound musicals to intimate venues where you can feel the performers’ breath, the options are endless. But which are the best London theatres for you to visit?

Well, you can discover a wealth of information about London’s theatres in our theatres directory. And to give you a little more guidance, we ask the stars of London’s theatre scene about their own best London theatres. Here’s what they say:

The National Theatre. Photo: Philip Vile.
Stage stars pick their best London theatres – The National Theatre. Photo: Philip Vile.

Carley Stenson: I loved Theatre Royal Drury Lane [where she performed in Shrek The Musical]. I love history. My room was beautiful. It was like my own London flat. I see [the theatre] now and can’t believe I got used to the size of that audience. It’s just breathtaking!

Arthur Darvill: The National Theatre has a special place in my brain; the Olivier gives me goosebumps. It’s magical. And Royal Court Theatre, too, the scale and history of that place. Plus you’re close to the audience because they’re so close to the stage. It’s the same feeling you get at the Bush.

Tom Fletcher: The London Palladium. Many childhood memories there. It’s where I first discovered what life as a performer was like.

Thalissa Teixeira: That’s hard, because as an audience member the theatre is only as good as the play it’s holding. Much like actors, actually! But in terms of theatre community, Shakespeare’s Globe. People there are crazy and that’s so good with me.

Stephen Tompkinson: I suppose my favourite London theatre would have to be Wyndham’s Theatre. That was where I made my West End debut, appearing in Yasmina Reza’s brilliant play Art.

Shakespeare's Globe. (Image: John Wildgoose.)
Stage stars pick their best London theatres – Shakespeare’s Globe. (Image: John Wildgoose.)

Simon Lipkin: Noel Coward Theatre will always be a special one for me as it’s where I opened Avenue Q. I have lots of happy memories there!

Danny-Boy Hatchard: I’m a huge fan of the Royal Court Theatre. I’ve been going there for years, not just to see new plays but to purchase the scripts. They produce some pretty special shows in that place.

Natasha J Barnes: I genuinely can’t answer that. I have so many. The Lyric Hammersmith, because that was my first theatre job. The Novello Theatre was my first West End theatre. Shakespeare’s Globe is like a little holiday. The Royal Court Theatre and National Theatre are on my bucket list and the Savoy Theatre made my dreams come true…

Gyuri Sarossy: I love the Young Vic. I prefer a sense of the audience gathered around you. I like any theatre where an audience feels like it’s part of the action. Park Theatre is a thrust stage, so I really like that, too.

Andrew Pollard: Well, I would have to say Greenwich Theatre as I have written, directed and played Dame in panto there for 11 years! It has become my second home.

Orange Tree Theatre
Stage stars pick their best London theatres – Orange Tree Theatre

Will Merrick: I love Orange Tree Theatre. I love seeing work in the round. It’s great fun to play, too. I think there’s some wicked stuff coming out of there at the moment. I hope it continues.

Fela Lufadeju: I love the National Theatre because I love the work that they do there and the boundaries they push, especially in terms of race. I think art is most reflective when you see yourself in it, and at the National there’s a voice for everyone.

Ben Lewis: The National Theatre, closely followed by the Young Vic. I love how open and welcoming the National Theatre is, and the Young Vic reminds me of a number of our great theatres back in Australia.

Alex Bourne: Dominion Theatre, where I spent nearly eight years of my life, performing in Beauty And The Beast and We Will Rock You. Amazing memories.

Oliver Lansley: That’s a very tough question. Theatres often become attached to certain favourite shows for me. I love The Old Vic. It’s so beautiful and I love the grandeur and the history of the place. I’ve never worked at National Theatre and remember travelling up on my own as a teenager, obsessed with theatre, to watch shows there. So that has special memories for me, too.

Park Theatre
Stage stars pick their best London theatres – Park Theatre

Manish Gandhi: I really like Park Theatre. I have seen some great stuff there.

Alexander Lass: It’s got to be Wyndham’s Theatre. I was Associate Director for Sean Mathias on No Man’s Land, starring Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart [which played there]. As a lifelong Harold Pinter obsessive, it was a rare privilege to work on that production. Our three months at Wyndham’s – where Peter Hall’s original 1975 production of No Man’s Land played after its start at The Old Vic – were the highlight of my professional life so far.

Rachel Parris: Wilton’s Music Hall. I’ve done the 50 Hour Improvathon there and also Austentatious. It’s the most stunning, evocative venue in London. It’s like stepping back in time. I mean, having created Austentatious, you might get a sense that I really like stepping back in time!

Amir El-Masry: Besides the Royal Court Theatre, I love the Bush Theatre. I love intimate spaces where you are up close with the action. Like the Royal Court, they are also very supportive of new writing.

Marc Pickering: Trafalgar Studios. It’s the first theatre I performed in after graduating from drama school. I played John Merrick in The Elephant Man. It’s one of the toughest roles I’ve ever played but also one of the most rewarding.

Wilton's Music Hall
Stage stars pick their best London theatres – Wilton’s Music Hall

Stephen Leask: There is something really magical about Shakespeare’s Globe. The building has such history behind it and was built with such love by Sam Wanamaker. It was a real passion project for him and you really feel that when you are there.

Keith Strachan: I’ve worked in many London theatres, both big and small. Working in a big theatre is an entirely different experience. The challenges are different. It’s less intimate and more to do with spectacle. I don’t have a favourite, but the Prince of Wales Theatre is a beautifully designed space. It’s big, but every seat feels close to the stage.

Zubin Varla: I have a great love for the National Theatre as I have grown up with it. I’ve been nurtured and nourished by many great plays there over the years. I have been incredibly fortunate as a Londoner to have it as my local! I also love the Young Vic for its eclectic, daring, boundary-pushing programming and reach.

Caoilfhionn Dunne: I love the Donmar Warehouse. I love the shape and the size of it. There’s something very special about it. I have had such great times there.

Carlyss Peer: The Old Vic. Partially due to its fantastic history and the amazing people that have performed there and partially because I have very fond memories of working on Groundhog Day there. An experience I will never forget.

Young Vic (Image: Ellie Kurttz)
Stage stars pick their best London theatres – Young Vic (Image: Ellie Kurttz)

Ahsan Khan: It is, hands down, the candlelit indoor theatre Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at the Globe. The theatre was built using the plans that were discovered in the 1960s when detailed 17th-century drawings fell out of a book at the Worcester College, Oxford. I find it very charming and authentic. It is a lovely piece.

Judith Roddy: I love working at the National Theatre. I’ve played two leads there. There’s nothing quite like being in your dressing room and flicking the relay to tune into the live shows happening simultaneously. The Lyttelton stage is beautiful but vast. You have to eat up that space and ride the vastness. There’s a great audience mix in there, too.

Find out more about the best London theatres in our theatre directory.