Given we are looking at an extended period of time with no live performance in physical venues, I’ve decided to start a new series on LouReviews celebrating theatres across London.
I did think about highlighting one venue per post, but instead I am going to group them by their first letter. First up, we have theatres whose names begin with the letter A.
This will be a daily feature over the next few weeks.
1901 Arts Club
An “intimate, arts-focused events space in Central London”, this venue opened in 2007 and largely stages concerts and recitals. Joji Hattori’s vision when he restored the former schoolhouse (built in 1901) was to create a performance space larger than a living room but smaller than a concert hall.
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Arts and Above the Arts
The Arts Theatre, on Great Newport Street in the West End, is the current home of hit musical Six, which is now in its second year. It’s an independent commercial theatre which also offers hire of two rehearsal spaces. The current management team of Louis Hartshorn and Lizzie Scott celebrate a decade in charge in 2020.
Above the Arts is a small space above the main theatre which hosts comedy, cabaret and small-scale concerts. The basement of the building is home to the “notorious” Covent Garden Cocktail Club.
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Above the Stag
Above the Stag, located in Vauxhall on the Albert Embankment, originated as a pub theatre in Victoria (2008-early 2012) before the area’s redevelopment. It is a theatre company serving the LGBTQIA+ community and their supporters, and has been in its current home since June 2018.
Currently Above The Stag has two performance spaces, the Main House and Studio, and a friendly bar. Its current artistic director is Andrew Beckett.
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Located on the Strand, West End’s Adelphi is the current home of the musical Waitress. A Grade II listed building most recently rebuilt in 1930, it is co-owned by Nederlander Organisation and LW Theatres (Andrew Lloyd Webber). It has been known as the Adelphi since 1819 but had been opened in 1806 as the Sans Pareil (“without compare”).
A “neighbourhood arts centre, driven by the cultural diversity and creative mix of South East London”, the Albany opened its first building in Deptford in 1899. The present building dates from 1982, following the destruction of its predecessor, the Albany Empire, by fire in 1978.
There are current plans to develop the theatre further which will preserve the main perfornance space and upgrade the facilities available. The Albany’s current artistic director and CEO is Gavin Barlow.
West End house the Aldwych is unsurprisingly situated on the street of the same name. It is the current home of Tina: the Musical but until 1982 it was under the ownership of the Royal Shakespeare Company. It is now part of the Nederlander Organisation’s portfolio.
A Grade II listed building, it was opened in 1905. In the 1920s it was widely known as the home of the Aldwych farces, before turning to Shakespeare in 1960.
The Alexandra Palace, roughly between Wood Green and Muswell Hill, has had a very interesting life. Restored in 2018, it had been dark and derelict since the 1930s. Opened as a theatre in 1875, it went on to become a cinema, a music hall and a BBC prop store before closure. The original Palace of 1873 burned down days after opening.
Alexandra Palace was also the original home of the fledgling BBC from 1935 to 1956, and is fondly remembered as “Ally Pally” by many.
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Based off Upper Street in Islington, the Almeida is a “studio theatre with an international reputation”. Opened in 1982, its two-level configuration (with seperate entrances from the street for the balcony) dates back to days as a Salvation Army place of worship.
Grade II listed since 1972, the theatre has undergone further modification in the public areas but retains the general feel of the original 1833 building. Its current artistic director is Rupert Goold.
West End house the Ambassadors can be found on West Street, with an audience capacity of 444. It hosts small-scale plays and musicals, and is owned by the Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG).
It opened in 1913 and briefly changed configuration to two spaces between 1996 and 1999, before becoming one space again as the New Ambassadors. ATG disposed of the Grade II listed space in 2007, at which time it reverted to its original name, but repurchased the venue in 2018.
The Arcola, in Dalston, dates from 2000 and is based in the former Colourworks factory. It has two studio performance spaces, two rehearsal studios and a busy cafe-bar.
Founded by artistic director Mehmet Ergen, the theatre first set up shop in a disused textile factory on Arcola Street, but moved to Ashwin Street in 2011. Since 2007 the theatre has been home to the Grimeborn Festival each August, showcasing opera and musical theatre.
The Apollo, a West End theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, opened in 1901, designed specifically for musical theatre and named after the Greek god of the arts. Its balcony is considered to be one of the steepest in London.
It is owned by Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer, who trade as Nimax Theatres. It is currently the home of the hit musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, now in its third year.
The Apollo Victoria, not surprisingly based in Victoria, has been the home of the musical Wicked since 2006. Opened in 1930, as the New Victoria, a cinema in the Gaumont British chain, it became a rock venue in 1976 before opening as a theatre in 1981.
The first major show at the Apollo Victoria was Starlight Express (1984-2002) which required skating tracks to be set up at all audience levels. It is currently owned by ATG.
artsdepot is based in North Finchley, and is “an arts and perfornance centre with two theatre spaces”. It celebrated its busiest year in 2018/19 with 162,000 people visiting the venue to see 123 different shows.
Open since 2004, artsdepot is built on the former site of a Gaumont cinema, which had been demolished in 1987.