Duke of York's Theatre, London
Carrying a broad façade on the outside, on the inside its raspberry walls are surrounded by ornate carvings in the circles. The horseshoed Duke of York’s Theatre wraps itself around a well-sized stage for a modest audience of roughly 650.
Nearest Tube Station:
Directions From Tube:
(5mins) Take Charing Cross Road to St Martin’s Court, head down until the end and then take a right onto St Martin’s Lane until you reach the theatre on your right.
(Charing Cross Road) 24, 29, 176; (Strand) 6, 9, 11, 13, 15, 23, 87, 91, 139
Night Bus Numbers:
(Charing Cross Road) 24, 176, N5, N20, N29, N41, N279; (Strand) 6, 23, 139, N9, N15, N11, N13, N21, N26, N44, N47, N87, N89, N91, N155, N343, N551
Nearest Rail Station:
Nearest Car Park:
Duke of York's Theatre
45 St Martin's Lane, London, WC2N 4BG
The first theatre to open on St Martin’s Lane (there are three in total today), the Duke of York’s Theatre started out life as the Trafalgar Theatre in 1892, though changed its name after only two years. Its first production, comic opera Wedding Eve, didn’t fair too well, but when financial and creative backing came thanks to American producer Charles “Napoleon of the Theatre” Frohman, it wasn’t long before his imported American talent made the Duke of York’s a roaring success in the late 19th century.
The Duke of York’s early history is probably most notable for its production of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, which was the first time the tale of the boy who wouldn’t grow up entered the public consciousness. Frohman even reportedly quoted the play just before his tragic premature death on a sinking ship, proclaiming “Why fear death? It is the most beautiful adventure that life gives us”. His death brought on a creative transition in the Duke of York’s Theatre towards opera and ballet. It even witnessed legendary British ballet dancers Dame Alicia Markova and Sir Anton Dolin on its stage.
Going through a phase of troubled management in the 1950s, when two productions ran for three nights and one night respectively, by the late 1970s the theatre was restored to its original cream and gold décor and rejuvenated with several well-received productions – among them Rose with Glenda Jackson; American Buffalo with Al Pacino and Willy Russell’s Shirley Valentine. Today the Duke of York’s is still a superb venue for sleeper hit plays and musicals that fill its 650-person capacity.
The ghost believed to be that of Violet Melnotte, a one-time owner of the theatre until her death in the 1930s, has been heard from her old box and seen in the backstage green room from time to time.
The theatre changed its name from ‘Trafalgar’ to ‘Duke of York’s’ in honour of the man who would later become King George V.
Puccini, after seeing a production of Madame Butterfly here, was inspired to write the famous opera of the same name. His opera was performed at the Duke of York’s 30 years later.
The theatre was owned by Capital Radio from 1979 to 1992.
Never mind health and safety – the theatre was one of the only theatres to allow real log fires to be lit in the auditorium!
Charlie Chaplin made his stage debut at the Duke of York’s, starring in a production of Sherlock Holmes at just 14 years old.
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.