London’s theatre land is one of the most popular attractions of the capital city. The unique architecture and history associated with many of the theatres, plus the quality of the shows that are performed, means that hundreds of shows are performed every week throughout the year. The audiences include foreign tourists, as well as local people, who are attracted to watch shows that will often be performed in other areas of the world. Many shows start out in other areas of the country, before making their way to London to perform in one of its many theatres.
The shows rely on favorable comments from the press critics. Favorable reports will result in good audiences and this will mean a show can run for a long time. However, it is not always good reports that emanate from the press. If a show does not receive good reviews that it is likely to perform poorly. Low audience figures can result in a show closing early due to financial difficulties. The Kudos of being associated with a successful show, and also one’s own individual performance, results in many of the world’s top actors and actresses being attracted to the West End in in order to perform. Many of the world’s most successful performers have started in London’s west end.
Those who have been successful in Theatre are termed as classical actors and actresses. This is seen as being a “badge of honor’ and is seen in favorable light by many in the acting profession. Many performers, who have starting their careers in Hollywood, have put their careers in film on hold, to go and perform live on Stage in one of London’s many Theatres. The popularity of London’s West end is mainly as a result of its rich history. The period from 1660 when Charles II came to the throne saw many theatres being built in the capital. Prior to this time there were few establishments and they were often located in the squalid areas of the city.
London’s Theatre was first inspired by the writers themselves. Shakespeare has written many plays that have sold out theatres in the capital over the centuries, but he realized that he needed venues where his plays could be performed. In 1599 he had a 12.5% share in the building of the Globe in Shoreditch. Although the Globe was destroyed by fire in 1613 it was instrumental in being one of the first permanent structures that would hold theatrical performances. Today there is the “Shakespeare Globe” that was constructed in 1997 having the same design and measurements as the original building.
The oldest theatre in the West End is the Theatre Royal, Haymarket which opened in 1720, and this was followed shortly by the Royal Opera House that was opened in Covent Garden in 1732. The Theatre Royal was the first venue to hold scheduled matinee performance. Most theatres today have these which are mainly performed on Wednesday afternoons. The Royal Opera House as well as being home to the opera is also home to the ballet and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. It in 1732 and for the first hundred years it housed mainly plays, although it did present its first ballet in 1734. It competed fiercely with the Theatre Royal for London audiences and was more ambitious with the productions that were played on its stages.
In 1846 Michael Costa the conductor at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Haymarket moved to the Royal Opera House bringing the Opera and Ballet with him. From this point on the centre of the capitals ballet and opera was at the royal Opera House. Despite being destroyed by fire in 1856 it was reopened in 1858 and building is now a Grade 1 Listed Building. The auditorium consists of 4 tiers and has a capacity of 2,256 which makes it the 3rd largest venue in London. The leading Opera and Ballet companies in the world will perform at the Royal Opera House when they visit London.