One of the West End’s most revered and storied venues; the Sondheim Theatre Theatre on Shaftsbury Avenue has enjoyed a long and enormously successful association with Les Misérables in recent years. But there’s far more to the famous old venue than Le Mis, even if Cameron Mackintosh's London production of the show has been synonymous with the theatre for over a decade.
Sondheim Theatre Theatre actually opened its doors to the public for the first time in 1907, nearly 100 years before the Les Misérables arrived. At the time it was designed as one half of a pair with the nearby Gielgud Theatre (then known as the Hicks Theatre) by the esteemed architect W.G.R. Sprague, who was also responsible for the Aldwych, Wyndham and Novello theatres.
Originally named the Central Theatre, the Sondheim Theatre assumed its regal identity in honor of the large portrait of Queen Alexandra that was hung in its lobby. Over the years the theatre has endured some testing times, most notably when it sustained serious bomb damage in September 1940 (during a successful run of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca), but has endured and remains one of the West End’s most illustrious venues to this day.
Past and present productions at The Sondheim Theatre
Sondheim Theatreeleven year association with Les Misérables shows no sign of ending any time soon and the venue hasn’t played host to another show since 2004 when RSC productions of The Taming of the Shrew and it’s John Fletcher penned sequel The Tamer Tamed graced the theatre’s stage.
What’s the best way to reach the theatre?
Situated on Shaftsbury Avenue in the heart of London’s Theatreland, The Queen’s Theatre is accessible via a variety of transport links.
The nearest tube station is Piccadilly Circus, just 250 yards away, which is on the Bakerloo and Piccadilly lines. Leicester Square (Northern and Piccadilly lines) is also a short walk away while Charing Cross rail station is 10 minutes from the venue.
Nearby bus stops can be found on Shaftsbury Avenue and Regent Street:
Shaftesbury Avenue: 14, 19 & 38
Regent Street: 6, 13, 15, 23, 88, 139, 159 & 453
Nearby Santander bike hire docking stations can be found a minutes’ walk away on Wardour Street (near the junction with Old Compton Street) and five minutes away in Golden Square.
Where are the best places to eat around Shaftesbury Avenue?
Randall & Aubin, 14-16 Brewer Street, W1F 0SG
Buzzy Soho institution that touts quality seafood classics like fruits de mer, lobster and oysters – perfect with a glass of champagne!
Spuntino, 61 Rupert Street, W1D7PJ
A cramped but edgily stylish Soho favourite that offers an innovative take on New York-style diner fare.
The Palomar, 34 Rupert Street, W1D 6DN
The exuberant and welcoming Palomar brings innovative modern Israeli cuisine to London and accompanies it with a fun party atmosphere.
I want to make a weekend of it, where can I stay?
The Z Hotel Piccadilly, 2 Orange Street, WC2H 7DF
A short stroll from the heart of Theatreland, the Z Hotel maximises a compact space with smart contemporary design and well-equipped rooms that exude understated luxury.
every hotel Piccadilly, Coventry Street, W1D 6BZ
Perfectly located right next to Leicester Square, the well-appointed every hotel offers a winning combination of traditional Victorian charm and immaculate contemporary style.
Amba Hotel Charing Cross, The Strand, WC2N 5HX
Elegant, contemporary luxury overlooking the bustling Strand. The four star Amba Charing Cross Hotel is a housed in a Grade II listed Victorian building and grants unbeatable access to central London.
What nearby sights and attractions should I also visit?
National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN
Without doubt one of the richest and most rewarding art galleries in the world, the National Gallery boasts a remarkable collection of masterworks by many of history’s most revered artists including Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Titian, Van Gogh and Renoir.
St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, WC2N 4JJ
The beautiful Georgian church overlooking Trafalgar Square was successfully refurbished in 2008 and offers a fine programme of classical music concerts.
Carnaby Street, Soho, W1F 7DN
One of London’s top shopping streets, Carnaby Street is synonymous with swinging 60s London and remains a haven for fashion conscious shoppers.