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Northumberland Avenue
London, WC2N 5DE

Playhouse Theatre

The Playhouse Theatre on Northumberland Avenue near Trafalgar Square opened in March 1882 under the name of the Royal Avenue Theatre. This site was chosen for a theatre by a property speculator who believed he could make a huge profit as the South-Eastern Railway would need to acquire the land for the future extension of Charing Cross Station. This never happened, and the Playhouse still stands today overlooking the newly built footbridge over the Thames.

In 1905 the theatre was undergoing some building works when a block of masonry dropped from the adjacent Charing Cross railway station, falling through the roof of the theatre and killing six workmen and injuring many more. It reopened 1907 and still retains its original substage machinery with a seating capacity of 786.After a long series of successes the Playhouse Theatre closed during the World War II.

When it reopened in 1951 it was transformed into a recording studio for live performances and became the home of BBC radio for 25 years. The Goon Show and radio versions of Hancock's Half Hour and Steptoe and Son were recorded here. Its stage also hosted live performances by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and in April 1967 a live Pink Floyd concert was broadcast from the theatre. When the BBC left in 1976 the theatre went dark and was in danger of demolition, but it was saved and restored to its 1907 design by impresario Robin Gonshaw who reopened it in October 1987.

In 1988 the novelist and politician Jeffrey Archer bought the Playhouse for just over £1 million. In 1991 it became home to the Peter Hall Company, and during that time the basement bar area of the theatre was converted into Shaws restaurant, but this did not prove a success and the space was converted back into a bar/cafe.

In 1992 Archer sold the Playhouse to Ray Cooney for just over £2 million who sold it in 1996, when it was closed again for refurbishment with the auditorium being luxuriously decorated with murals, caryatids, golden pillars and carved balustrades. It reopened again in 1997 and is now a commercial receiving house with the current production of La Cage Aux Folles transferring here from the Menier Chocolate Factory.


Tube : Embankment
Train: Charing Cross
buses to he Playhouse theatre
3, 6, 9, 12, 13, 15, 24, 29, 30, 53
nearest car park

This theatre participates in the Theatreland Parking Scheme - find out more about the great discounts offered by clicking on the link.


Sennheiser infra-red sound amplification system, available in all areas of the auditorium. To access the infra-red systems please request receiving equipment from the Box Office situated in the main foyer. A £10 refundable deposit is required.
There are two devices available: Induction Loop Necklace suitable for persons wearing a hearing aid &  Headset which amplifies sound through earpieces similar to headphones and is suitable for persons without a hearing aid.
Guide dogs are permitted inside the auditorium at the end of the row in the stalls
There are 3 steps into foyer through double doors - a ramp is available. There are wheelchair spaces at rows H and G in the Stalls - a companion can sit in next to the customer. There are a further 6 transfer spaces available
There is an access toilet in the foyer, adapted for wheelchair use. Non-adapted toilets are in the Basement Bar, Dress Circle, and Upper Circle.