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Shaftesbury Theatre

A guide to the Shaftesbury Theatre in London's West End

The Shaftesbury Theatre, which began life in 1911 as the New Princes Theatre with an adaptation of The Three Musketeers, was the last theatre to be built on Shaftesbury Avenue.

In the hundred years or so since then it has enjoyed considerable success, with musicals such as Hair, which ran for five years, and West Side Story. It has also seen the transfer of smash Broadway musicals such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Located in the West End, the theatre is an ideal location at which to round off a day in the capital, close to attractions such as the British Museum and Covent Garden. It is also close to many popular restaurants and pubs, whether you're looking for pre- or post-theatre drinks, or a great theatre meal deal.

The Shaftesbury is four minutes walk from Tottenham Court Road tube station and five minutes from both Covent Garden and Holborn. It has a capacity of 1,400 accommodated across three levels: stall, royal circle and grand circle. Behind a modern exterior lies a lavish French-style interior with Ionic columns and elaborate plasterwork ensuring your visit to the theatre with family, friends or partner is a memorable one.

The history

The Shaftesbury Theatre enjoyed early success with a season of Gilbert and Sullivan operas presented by the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company which became a regular fixture. In 1993, Basil Rathbone, best known these days for his film appearances as Sherlock Holmes, starred in a revival of the play Diplomacy. In the 1960s, after being sold to EMI and renamed the Shaftesbury, the venue hosted a number of transfers of Broadway shows. These included How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Little Me (1964).

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the musical Hair had a run of 1,998 performances which was only halted by the collapse of part of the auditorium ceiling. As with a number of other West End theatres, the venue fell threat to redevelopment but was saved after a successful campaign for its preservation. The theatre reopened in 1975 with West Side Story. Since then it has hosted a string of smash musicals including Carousel, Tommy, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Fame, Hairspray, Flashdance, Rock of Ages and Memphis.

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