Little Theatre Blog Theatre The Origins of London’s Famous West End Theatre Scene

The Origins of London’s Famous West End Theatre Scene

The West End is one of the most iconic theatre hubs in the world. Boasting origins that date all the way back to 1663, today, the West End hosts some of the world’s top performers and showcases plays and musicals from all over the world.

What Exactly Is The West End?

Today, the West End refers to a part of London, west of the River Thames, that loosely consists of the boroughs of Westminster, Chelsea and Kensington. It refers to a pretty affluent area made up of high-end shopping spots, top-notch restaurants and, of course, world class theatres.

References to the West End in the context of theatre refers to the many high quality, classic theatres that are found in the area.

How Did The West End Come To Be?

The area now known as the West End went through significant ebbs and flows with regards to being home to British nobility for a significant period before transforming into a hotspot for theatres.

The first theatre in the West End was built way back in 1663 at the request of Thomas Killigrew. Referred to as the Royal Theatre on Drury Lane – going by the title of “the Theatre Royal” back in the day – it existed as the only major theatre in the area for another hundred years or so.

The Growth of West End Theatres

Funded by John Scott, a well-known thespian at the time, the next major theatre in the West End was established as late as 1806. The Adelphi Theatre – referred to as the Sans Pareil in the 19th century – became incredibly popular as the years went by.

83 years passed before another large theatre was established in the area. Indeed, after the establishment of the Garrick and Lyric Theatres, it wasn’t long before the West End experienced a boom.

The West End In The 20th Century

The 20th century was a tremendous time for West End theatres, and it was during this era that some of the most famous and successful shows of all time were first performed. Indeed, Mousetrap, the longest running show in the history of the West End, debuted in 1952 and is still going today, more than sixty years later.

The late 20th century saw the likes of the Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables gracing the stages of West End Theatres – shows whose continued success to this day is as incredible as online roulette for Mac and that demonstrate the power of the mighty West End Theatreland.

What Are Some Of The Most Famous West End Shows?

The West End has seen an incredible number of wonderful shows during its existence, but some of the most famous and successful shows are:

  • The Phantom of the Opera
  • Les Miserables
  • Disney’s the Lion King
  • Grease
  • Cats
  • Oliver!
  • The Rocky Horror Show
  • Wicked
  • Chicago
  • West Side Story

…and so many more!

So if you happy to find your self West of the River Thames in London, you better try your darndest to get a ticket to a West End show!

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