Dominion Theatre, London
An extremely wide, convex theatre, the Dominion’s 2,000 member audience looks out onto a broad deep stage that is ideal for very popular musicals, despite having spent most of its life as a cinema. A particular highlight being the spidery staircases, its regal red-and-gold colour scheme would have complemented the Royal Variety Performance well the several times it hosted it.
Nearest Tube Station:
Tottenham Court Road
Directions From Tube:
The theatre can be seen from the station, on the corner of the crossroads between Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street.
(Tottenham Ct Rd Station) 7, 10, 14, 24, 29, 73, 134, 242; (New Oxford St) 1, 8, 25, 55, 98, 176, 390
Night Bus Numbers:
(Tottenham Ct Rd Station) 7, 10, 14, 24, 134, 242, N7, N29, N35, N68, N73, N253, N279; (New Oxford St) 25, 176, 390, N1, N8, N41, N55, N98, N171, N207
Nearest Rail Station:
Nearest Car Park:
YMCA Great Russell Street (2mins), Holborn Selkirk House Museum Street (5mins)
268-269 Tottenham Court Road, London, W1T 7AQ
Built on the grounds of a pub and a cinema, the rather unfortunate timing of its 1929 opening marked the beginning of the Depression and didn’t serve the Dominion Theatre well; its first production closed after just 148 performances. This trouble followed it throughout the 1930s and forced it to change its raison d’etre for the new revolutionary medium, cinema.
This venture saved the Dominion Theatre from closure thanks to its popular location helping fill its whopping 3000 seats. For years, its biggest earners (ironically) were screenings of film musicals, with the occasional live show. But as the popularity of film musicals dwindled in Hollywood, the Dominion Theatre went into decline as well. Adapting to survive once again, it turned into a live venue in 1981 (with the odd film premiere here and there).
In this time of fluctuation during the ‘80s, the Dominion went back to its roots as a theatre and, combining its history of success with film musicals, welcomed musical productions of Grease, Swan Lake and the stage adaptation of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Its large capacity also served the Royal Variety Performance a handful of times from 1992 to 2001.
Despite its rocky history and struggle to stay in business, the Dominion Theatre hit the jackpot in 2002 with the immensely popular Queen musicalWe Will Rock You. Although the show almost closed in 2006, just like its theatre home, it overcame its obstacles and continues to stay strong to this day.
Built on the grounds of an old brewery, some visitors have reported seeing the ghost of a brewery worker in the Dominion!
The brewery which existed at the site of the Dominion Theatre was the source of the London Beer Flood, which saw 1.5 million litres of beer flood the streets in 1814.
Along with a brewery, the site also once held a funfair and a tent for variety performances.
Even with its upper circle boarded up, the Dominion has one of the largest seating capacities in the West End, holding 2,000 people. If the upper circle were to be opened, there would be a total of 2,835 seats, beating all other theatres by more than 500 seats.
The Dominion spent much of its life as a cinema, and only re-opened as a theatre in 1981 after 50 years of film screenings and occasional live concerts.
When it was still a cinema, the theatre hosted musical screenings, including South Pacific and The Sound of Music – perhaps a foreshadowing of its musical theatre future.
The theatre hosted Bernadette The Musical in 1990, widely considered one of the worst of all time. A production about a saint, it was an overnight disaster with critics ripping it to shreds, and for its month-long run managed to reportedly attract audiences to laugh at it before it closed.
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.