West End Musicals

West End Plays

A-Z of London
West End Stage Shows




West End Plays

Plays in the west end have always been a big draw in London nightlife.  We have cheap and discount tickets to west end plays including top productions like The Woman In Black, War Horse and The Mousetrap.  New discount offers are added daily so please check this page on a regular basis.

West end plays in London are as popular now as they ever were with both lavish stage productions such as War Horse and timeless classics like the evergreen and ever popular Mousetrap packing in the punters night after night quenching the theatre going public's seemingly never ending thirst to see live stage performances in the west end.

Actors from both TV and the big screen flock to London taking huge pay cuts simply to add a west end production to their CV's and prove that they can cut it in a live environment and in front of a live audience with no retakes. It hasn't always like this though and as the London theatre scene has evolved over almost 500 years from very humble beginnings into what has become the huge £600 million pound industry that we know and love today.

Plays in the theatre in London started to flourish after the English Reformation period.. The first permanent public venue that showcased plays was known simply as 'The Theatre', and was constructed all the way back in 1576 in Shoreditch, in the east end by James Burbage. The Theatre was soon joined by another venue known as 'The Curtain, and.both these venues are known to have been used by William Shakespeare's company. In1599, they took all the timber from The Theatre and moved it south of the Thames to Southwark, where it was used to erect the original Globe Theatre in what was a new theatre district formed beyond the control of the City corporation. These theatres were all closed in the year 1642 during the interregnum

The first West End theatre was called the Theatre Royal in Bridges Street and was designed by Thomas Killigrew and built on the site of what is now the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. . The Theatre Royal opened on 7th May 1663 but was unfortunately destroyed by fire 9 years later. It was then replaced by a new structure designed by Sir Christopher Wren and renamed the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

Outside the West End, Saddlers Wells Theatre opened in Islington on 3rd June 1683. Taking its name from its founder Richard Saddler and the monastic springs that were discovered to be on the site. it operated as what was known as a 'Musick House,' and had live performances of opera; as it was not licensed to stage plays. In what is now known as the West End, the Haymarket Theatre opened on December 29th 1720 on a site slightly north of its current location, and the Theatre Royal Covent Garden opened on December 7th 1732.

The Patent Theatre companies retained their duopoly on plays and drama productions well into the 19th century, and all other theatres could perform only musical entertainments, but by the early 19th century, however stage shows known as 'music hall' became popular, and presenters found a loophole in the restrictions on non-patent theatres in the genre of melodrama.. Melodrama was accompanied by music and therefore did not break the Patent Acts, Initially, these shows were presented in large halls, attached to public houses, but purpose-built theatres began to be establish themselves in the East End in both the Shoreditch and Whitechapel areas.

What has now become the West End theatre district became established with the opening of many small venues, including the Adelphi Theatre in the Strand on 17th November 1806. South of the river Thames, the Old Vic Theatre, opened on 11th May 1818, and the expansion of the West End theatre district started to gain momentum with the Theatre's Act in 1843 which relaxed the conditions for the performance of plays. The Strand gained another new venue when the Vaudeville Theatre opened on 16th April 1870 and the next few decades saw the opening of many new theatres in the West End. The Criterion Theatre opened on Piccadilly Circus on 21th March 1874, and then in 1881, two more new venues appeared: the Savoy Theatre in The Strand, which opened on October 10th and was built specifically to showcase the comic operas of the great Gilbert and Sullivan and was thon Panton Street but three years later later abbreviated its name to its current form Thee first theatre to be lit by cooler, cleaner electric lights, and five days later the Comedy Theatre opened as the then Royal Comedy Theatre. The theatre building boom continued until about the first World War.

Many west end theatres are of late Victorian or Edwardian construction and are still privately owned. The majority have great character, and the largest and best maintained feature grand neo-classical, Romanesque, or Victorian façades and luxurious, detailed interior decoration and design On the other hand, leg room can often be cramped, and audience facilities such as bars and toilets are often much smaller than in modern theatres. The protected status of many of the buildings and their confined urban locations, combined with ongoing financial constraints, make it is very difficult to make substantial improvements to the level of comfort offered to patrons. In 2004, it was estimated an investment of £250 million was required for the modernisation of west end theatres and the theatre owners unsuccessfully requested government tax concessions to help them meet the costs.

During the 1950s and 1960s, a lot of plays were produced in theatre clubs to evade censorship that was then exercised by the office of Lord Chamberlain, and.the theatre's act in 1968 finally abolished censorship of the stage accross the whole of the UK which has led to west end shows and the selling of theatre tickets in London becoming the huge multi million pound industry that we see today.

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