So you have got your tickets to a West End show in London, but you want to make a day of it, and go exploring. You’ve been to the science and history museums, seen the sites, but did you know that there are a few things for us theatre lovers to do?
The V&A Theatre Exhibit Collection
Now I know I mentioned the museums, however the V&A museum focuses a lot more on the arts than the other two, and this museum has its own Theatre exhibition – ‘The Theatre & Performance collections are an incredible resource that document current practice and the history of all areas of performing arts in the UK, including drama, dance, opera, circus, puppetry, comedy, musical theatre, costume, set design, pantomime, popular music and much more…’
I had heard about this exhibit having seen pictures of it by friends on Facebook and twitter, and I had to go! Free entry and situated in rooms 103 -106b, level 3, it is definitely one for theatre lovers, you see costumes from The Lion King, puppets from War Horse, scenery from Sweeny Todd, the list is endless. There is also history and you learn so much, I’ve been once but that won’t stop me going again, I highly recommend for more information go here.
The Theatre Cafe
Now I’d be very surprised if you didn’t know about this little cafe that is opposite the Queens Theatre however just in case. ‘The Theatre Café is London’s first ever theatre‑themed coffee shop! Situated in the heart of theatreland on Shaftesbury Avenue the coffee shop is the ideal place to come and immersed in all things theatrical. The perfect place to see all whats playing in the West End, you can buy tickets in a relaxed atmosphere and find the right show for you!’
I couldn’t have put it better myself! The whole place is covered in posters of the west end, tables are leaflets of present and past shows, even the bathroom has the dressing room mirror, that many can’t not take a photo looking into it! The menu is great and reasonably priced, all theatre themed too such as ‘The Phantom of the Mocha’, Starlight Espresso, Charlie and the Hot Chocolate to name a few, they even make the best milkshakes! But along with having something to eat and drink you can purchase tickets (if you haven’t got some already) but also partake in events where West End Stars visit and talk, there are is even Open Mics, and quizzes to keep you entertained! A great stop to go to for theatre fun! I also heard that if you wear a certain MTAS badge there is a discount for you! For more information go here.
The National Theatre Tours
The National Theatre is home of 3 wonderful theatres, that perform amazing musicals and plays that have lit up our West End. But do we know what goes on behind the scenes? The National Theatre provides 3 different tours for the public to attend prices ranging from £9.50 to £12.50 depending on the want that attracts you the most!
There is the Backstage Tour – Explore the backstage life of the National Theatre a working building, producing over 20 new productions every year. Preparation for the shows, including rehearsals, prop and costume-making all happen on site. No two tours are ever the same, so come and see what’s happening behind the scenes today. Runs Mondays to Saturdays. The Costume Tour – See the craft and skill of the NT’s costume team including the cutting room, dye shop and wig room. Selected Saturdays only, 10am. The Agriculture Tour – Designed by the architect Denys Lasdun, the National Theatre has divided public opinion since it opened in 1976. In 2001 a Radio Times poll featured Denys Lasdun’s building in the top five of both the most hated and the most loved British buildings. Devised with Patrick Dillon, of NT Future architects Haworth Tompkins, come and see for yourself, how Lasdun’s masterpiece is revealed anew. This tour does not include the auditoriums – backstage tours may be booked separately. So pick what takes your fancy and learn much of the theatre land! For more information go here.
Phoenix Artist Club
I stumbled across this club when I was trying to find something to do for my birthday one year, and I am so glad I did! The Phoenix Artist Club – ‘Secreted away down the same little side street used in the opening sequence of Harry Potter and tucked beneath The Phoenix Theatre lies our charming escape from the London norm. Our lively and nostalgic theatre bar & Restaurant is located in the original dressing and rehearsal rooms of The Phoenix Theatre where Laurence Olivier made his debut on stage in the 1930s in “Private Lives” with Noel Coward and Gertrude Lawrence. With fascinating signed posters, paintings and pictures from decades of theatre productions, a restored art deco interior and hidden treasures lurking in every corner, there’s something new to see on every visit, and you never know who might decide to give an impromptu performance!’
It is a lovely atmosphere and managed by lovely people that ensure you have a good night, the menu is delicious, they even provide a pre theatre menu for anyone wanting to catch a quick bite before a show, and even their cocktails are theatre themed such as One Sip More, Luck be a Lady, and No 17: The Spread Eagle. I highly recommend booking a table here, even for their special event nights. For further information, and to book a table go here.
Musical Theatre Walking Tour
Now this I stumbled upon when researching for this blog, and there are many tours that take you around the London’s West End, that teaches you about the theatre, the show, and the cast that is playing currently. I myself have not taken part, but now knowing that this is available I may just need to see whats in store. ‘Join award winning soloist and Musical Theatre expert Neil Maxfield on a walk around London’s glittering West End. Revel in a fascinating insight into the world we call show business. Meet some of the stars and composers personified by Neil in his own inimitable style.Learn about the most exciting of industries and its flagship shows. Hear performances from some of the greatest works of all time. Use this opportunity to share your vocal talents. For £15 a tour, and runs Thursday evenings and Sunday Mornings, if you want to walk the West End what better way to do so! I know I might be booking one in the near future, for more information go here.
Now these are just a few theatre themed things to do and go to in London, but that’s not to say that these are the only things! I’m sure I have missed a few places so please tell me, where do you go for your pre-theatre trips out?
What other theatre related activities have you discovered? Let us know in the comments or tweet @MTAS_Official & @KTRoseReview