Aldwych Theatre, London
Situated on the corner of Drury Lane, the Aldwych Theatre’s pastel green gold-lined walls and plush red carpeting make it feel warm and rich with a touch of sophistication. Nearly holding 1200 seats, the auditorium – curving around a broad stage – is perfect for popular musicals and ambitious plays.
Nearest Tube Station:
Directions From Tube:
(10mins) Head out onto the main road Strand. Cross street where possible and go right. When you reach the fork, veer left onto Aldwych.
(Aldwych) RV1, X68, 1, 6, 11, 13, 23, 59, 68, 87, 91, 139, 168, 171, 172, 188, 243; (Strand) 4, 9, 15, 26, 76, 176, 341
Night Bus Numbers:
(Aldwych) 6, 23, 139, 188, 243, N1, N11, N13, N26, N47, N68, N87, N89, N91, N155, N171, N551, N343; (Strand) 176, 341, N9, N15, N21, N44, N76
Nearest Rail Station:
Nearest Car Park:
Drury Lane, Parker Street (5mins)
49 Aldwych, London, WC2B 4DF
Thanks to the backing of an American investor, the Aldwych was built in 1905 in a pair with the Waldorf Theatre (today’s Novello Theatre) with which it shares an identical exterior and Georgian style. It was described as “cosy and comfortable” when opened, and that still applies today. The highlights of its early years were the honour of debuting the first Chekhov play in Britain (which have since been abundant in the West End), namely The Cherry Orchard. It also witnessed a collection of plays dubbed ‘The Aldwych Farces’ in the ‘20s and ‘30s, which made the comedic genre ever more popular.
It escaped a demolition threat in the late ‘50s to end up playing the London home to the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1960 onwards. A residency intended to last only 3 years, it continued until 1982 (22 years in total) before its move to the Barbican. The leasing out worked in their favour, as it earned them a £75,000 makeover (that’s £545,000 at today’s prices!), and in between RSC productions hosted an annual selection of foreign plays in their original language, dubbed ‘World Theatre Season’.
With big stars Vivien Leigh and Joan Collins having graced its stage in its one-hundred-year-plus history, in recent years the Aldwych has been a semi-consistent residence for musicals, including Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Whistle Down the Wind, Fame and the immensely popular Dirty Dancing, which closed following a five year run in 2011.
The theatre hosted a production of Streetcar Named Desire in 1949 starring Vivien Leigh and directed by Laurence Olivier.
All the profits the theatre earned on its opening night of a production called Blue Bell went to a royal charity for the unemployed.
During World War II, the Aldwych staged an anti-Nazi play entitled Watch on the Rhine which drew wartime audiences back to it.
It was twinned with the Novello Theatre when it first opened, with similar front facades and seating capacities.
Make the most of your trip on the town with a delicious meal before the show. Check out our top recommendations below. All these restaurants are just a stone’s throw away from your theatre. So you can relax before enjoying a slice of world class entertainment. Simply add your theatre tickets to your basket and select the restaurant of your choice.