London Theatre Profile: Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
Christine Stein is a PAA Arts Administration Intern in London. For her internship capstone project she’ll profiling a different London theatre every month from September to January. Stay tuned for more from Christine soon!
Five Fun Facts:
- The current building on the site of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane is the fourth building to be put there! All of the same name, same location, same idea, but they kept burning down and needed to be rebuilt. Each one was more grand than the previous one! Why did they catch fire you ask?? Well…
- No, it wasn’t from a fire breathing dragon. It was because of the lack of safety curtains! Back before everything had electricity and light bulbs, they relied on candles to light the stage fromthe front. Now if someone were to tip one of those over and the stage caught fire, you would normally bring down the safety curtain to save everybody, right? WELL, because these fires happened so rarely, the safety curtains rusted shut and were not able to be used! That is why at every West End production you see, they will always pull down the safety curtain at the interval. Just to make sure it won’t malfunction…
- The theatre is DEFINITELY haunted. On the backstage tour they offer (which I highly recommend!!), they explain all about how there are ghosts everywhere in the theatre. One of the ghosts was an old cast member who never forgot anyone’s lines. If an actor ever forgot his lines, this cast member would tap them on the shoulder from behind and whisper them into his ear. One day, that cast member was on stage, and he forgot a line. He apologized to the audience, announced his resignation immediately, and was never seen again. To this day, when someone forgets a line, they often feel a little tap on their shoulder, and they instantly remember their line, but when they turn around, there’s nobody there…
- Ever wonder why everyone things that theatre stars and movie stars are, well, stars? You can thank David Garrick for that. He ran the theatre for many years, and he changed the view of actors in the public eye. They were always seen as common workers just as everyone else was, but he made sure that they were seen as much more than that. You can also thank him for giving women the ability to be in theatre! Men always played the roles of female parts, but Garrick knew it was time for women to shine in the theatre! The only exception to his rule was for the ever so fun Pantomime Theatre (when a man dresses as a woman for comedic effect).
- During the shift between Shrek The Musical and the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber donated millions of dollars, of his own money, simply to renovate the theatre back to its original state. He knew that the theatre was originally beautiful, and he wanted to restore it back to how it should have been many years ago. Talk about a dedicated artist!
The First Theatre Royal opened in 1663, but the current standing building was built in 1812. The Theatre Royal has been home to many important historic events, such as the first performance of the National Anthem. The theatre has been a staple in London’s West End for so long, and continues to always put on amazing performances. If you would like to find out more information about the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, visit the Really Useful Group’s website:
St. Martins Theatre