skip to Main Content
Shaftesbury Theatre

Your Ultimate Guide to the Shaftesbury Theatre in London

With a reputation of being the largest independent theatre in the West End and the last theatre built on Shaftesbury Avenue, the Shaftesbury Theatre is a thriving hub of exceptional quality large-scale productions.

The following is an overview of the theatre, including its history, seating information, facilities, Covid safety measures, as well as current and past productions.

Shaftesbury Theatre History

1911: On 26th December 1911, Shaftesbury Theatre was opened under the name, The Princes Theatre. The theatre was built by Bertie Crewe, who owned the Lyceum Theatre as well. One of the Theatre’s first productions was The Three Musketeers.

1914: The Princes Theatre was renamed The New Princes Theatre. The interior of the theatre at this time featured sculptures of poetry, music, comedy, and tragedy.

1916: The theatre management was passed to Seymour Hicks, and Operetta was introduced to the theatre.

1921: Gilbert and Sullivan operettas by D’Oyly Carte Company were the first to play in the theatre. The company has continued to operate until today.

1962: The theatre was renamed from The New Princes to today’s Shaftesbury Theatre. Following the name change, How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying was the first long-running musical to play.

1968: When the theatre censorship ban was lifted, Hair Musical played at the theatre for a run of just less than 2000 performances.

1973: Part of the theatre’s ceiling fell and led to a forced close. After years of campaigning by actors and others in the entertainment industry, the theatre was saved from demolition.

1974: The theatre reopened permanently and played a host of musicals, including West Side’s Story and Broadway’s Rent.

2007: The most successful production, Hairspray, played at the Theatre and went on for three years.

Shaftesbury Theatre Seating Capacity

Seating capacity: 1400

Shaftesbury Theatre Seating

The Shaftesbury Theatre Auditorium has three levels:

  • Grand circle- Far away from the stage, but central seats offers a nice stage view.
  • Royal Circle- Middle level with gently raked seats that may affect the sightlines of certain productions. Row H onwards may get the effect of the Grand Circle’s overhang.
  • The Stalls- Closest level to the stage with slightly raked seats that may greatly affect the sightlines. Row P onwards gets the effect of Royal Circle’s overhang.

Shaftesbury Theatre Facilities

  • Air-conditioned bar
  • Infrared hearing loop system
  • Disabled toilets and regular toilets
  • Wheelchair accessible space

What’s on Shaftesbury Theatre

Mrs. Doubtfire is the current production at Shaftesbury Theatre. The Musical opened in May 2023

Some past productions that have played at the Shaftesbury Theatre include:

  • Calamity Jane
  • Thoroughly Modern Millie
  • Bat Boy
  • The Far Pavilions
  • High Society
  • Daddy Cool
  • Fame
  • Hairspray
  • Burn The Floor
  • Flashdance The Musical
  • Derren Brown
  • Rock of Ages
  • From Here To Eternity
  • The Pajama Game
  • Memphis The Musical
  • Motown The Musical
  • The Illusionists
  • Be More Chill
  • & Juliet

If you want to pop somewhere to grab a bite to eat before your show why not go to the Theatre Cafe London.

Holly Jay

I Love Musical Theatre and made the Theatre Queen Blog To Share My Experiences, Reviews & Theatre News.