The West End: A Brief History of the Iconic Theater

The West End Theatre is a popular commercial theatre in and around the West End of London. Alongside New York City’s Broadway Theater, the West End Theater is widely regarded to be the top level of professional theatre in the English-speaking community. Watching a performance in the West End is a popular tourist practice in London.

Theater Royal Drury Lane Foundation (1663)

Initially founded on the instructions of Thomas Killigrew, playwright and theater director of the Restoration-era, the Theater Royal Drury Lane is the earliest theatre in the West End. The property is now possessed by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

 Sans Pareil Foundation (1806)

The Sans Pareil was founded by John Scott, spending £10,000 in the acquisition of rents of older properties on the sides and on the back of his home, and constructed a small theatre. 

The Lyric and Garrick Theaters Were Established (1889)

Since it was the second theatre to be constructed on Shaftesbury Road, the Lyric Theater has become the earliest on the popular West End Route. Light operas were originally performed by the Lyric Theater when it first started until light comedy shows and plays were gradually staged.

The Garrick Theater was founded following the same year, with deeper excavations built at the point of the construction of the site, so that the rear of the Dress Circle would’ve been even with the path. This Theater is among the tiniest theatres on the West End.

The Shortest Performance (1930) 

The Intimate Revue performed just for half a show at the Duchess Theater on 11 March. Since some of the improvements in the scene started to take up to 20 minutes each, several scenes were discarded to hit the final until midnight. The actors seemed under-rehearsed and the crowd members started laughing off stage, with the show ending the next day.

The Calls Inspector Marks Its British Debut (1946)

Oh, J.B. Priestley’s Inspector Calls was a satirical critique on the dramatic ruling elite which created a sensation at the moment. It was shown for the last time at the West End in 2016 at the Playhouse Theatre, in which it played for 6 months.

Opening of Les Misérables (1985)

Since its premiere in 1985, Les Misérables has been generated worldwide in 44 countries, converted into 22 languages, and seen by more than 70 million viewers. The first feedback in 1985 appeared poor, claiming it was too high, but its constant West End success indicates that the show still is a major success today.

The National Theater was formed (1976) 

The National Theater is a landmark on the South Bank. It consists of three theaters, The Olivier, The Dorfman, and The Lyttelton which debuted independently throughout 1976 and 1977. Many claims that the concrete structure is constructed in a traditionally Brutalist form, while many architectural specialists disagree. The National Theater has rapidly become the most prominent theatres for an artist to play.

In recent times, the West End also witnessed the rise of a couch potato culture, a fascination with celebrities and reality Television. Geoff Marsh reports that 50,000 theatre tickets are purchased every night and that 20,000 people come every day only to get a meal.