Celebrating London theatres: the ‘P’s

Welcome to today’s installment of Celebrating London Theatres. Today it is the turn of spaces beginning with ‘P’.


A West End theatre in Cambridge Circus, the Palace opened in 1891 as the Royal English Opera House. Within a year it had become a music hall under the name of Palace Theatre of Varieties; by 1911 it was simply known as the Palace Theatre.

It is currently owned by Nimax Theatres and has been the home of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child since 2016. Grade II* listed, it seats 1,400 on four levels.


Located near Finsbury Park station, the Park opened in 2013 and has two spaces, seating 200 and 90 people respectively.

The theatre describes itself as “a neighbourhood theatre with global ambition”, offering a mixed programme of new writing, classics, and revivals. There is also a smaller studio called the Morris Space which hosts occasional performances.

In 2016 it began a Reminiscence therapy programme for people affected by dementia and their carers. The Park’s founder and artistic director is Jez Bond.

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The Peacock, located on Kingsway, Holborn, opened as the London Opera House in 1911 (although a theatre has stood on the site since the 17th century).

Following a period of time as a cine-variety theatre owned by Stoll it reopened as the Royalty in 1960. It has spent time as a cinema and as a TV studio (notably for This is Your Life). From 1996 it has been known by its present name.

The theatre is owned by, and comprises part of, the London School of Economics. The theatre has a long lease with Sadler’s Wells to present a programme of dance under the banner “Sadler’s Wells in the West End”.

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The Pentameters Theatre dates back to 1968 and is still owned and operated by its original artistic director, Leonie Scott-Matthews.

It seats 60 and is located in Hampstead, above the Three Horseshoes pub, its home since 1971. Originally formed to present poets reading their work in an informal setting, the Pentameters began theatre shows in 1969.

A number of shows have transferred into the West End: more recently, the Pentameters has become known for classic revivals.

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West End theatre the Phoenix opened in 1930 on Charing Cross Road, and is currently home to the musical Come From Away.

Its interior is presented in an ornate Italianate style. Long associated with the works of Noel Coward, the foyer bar was named after him for many years. Grade II listed, the Phoenix is now owned by ATG.

Its longest-running production was the musical Blood Brothers, which was in residence for twenty-one years until 2012. From 1986-1999 the plot next to the theatre was home to the Curzon Phoenix cinema.


The Piccadilly Theatre in Piccadilly Circus dates back to 1928, and is currently home to Pretty Woman: The Musical.

In the late 1920s, the building operated as a cinema under the ownership of Warner Brothers, and was the setting for the first talking picture to be shown in Great Britain, The Jazz Singer. The theatre is now owned by ATG.

Pizza Express Jazz Club

The Pizza Express Jazz Club on Dean Street, Soho, was opened in 1976 and presents world class musicians in its intimate, basement setting.

The Place

Located down a street off the Euston Road, The Place presents contemporary dance theatre in a lecture theatre style space. Open since 1969, it is home to London Contemporary Dance School and Richard Alston Dance Company.

The theatre is part of the European Dancehouse Network and its current artistic director is Eddie Nixon.

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The Platform Theatre in King’s Cross is located with Central Saint Martins in the Granary Building and houses four performance spaces.

As well as presenting public performances by students of the University of the Arts, the Platform also hosts independent external events such as art festivals like the London International Mime Festival and the London International Festival of Theatre.


The Playhouse Theatre, near Embankment station, was opened in 1882 as the Royal Avenue Theatre. Between 1951 and 1976 it operated as a TV studio for the BBC, and was finally returned to use as a theatre in 1987. The theatre is now owned by ATG.


The Pleasance Theatre, near Caledonian Road, has been “one of the most exciting off-West End theatres” since it opened in 1995. A sister venue to the Pleasance, Edinburgh, it presents artists at all stages of their careers across three performance spaces.

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The Polka is a children’s theatre in Wimbledon with two performance spaces, seating 200 and 70 respectively. It is a producing house which has a regulartouring programme nationally and internationally.

The theatre venue, in the former Holy Trinity Halls, was opened in 1979, and was the UK’s first theatre dedicated exclusively to children. The current artistic director is Peter Glanville.

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Prince Edward

The Prince Edward Theatre is a West End venue in Old Compton Street, opened in 1930. Currently home to the musical Mary Poppins, it ran as a Cinerama from 1954-1974 before returning to use as a theatre in 1978 with Evita.

It is named for the Prince Edward who later abdicated his role as King Edward VIII. The theatre is now owned by Delfont Mackintosh.

Prince of Wales

The Prince of Wales (named for the future Edward VII), in Coventry Street, is a Grade II listed West End theatre owned by Delfont Mackintosh. Opened in 1884, and rebuilt in 1937, it has been home to the musical Book of Mormon since 2013.

Puppet Theatre Barge

A unique, 50 seater marionette theatre, the Puppet Theatre Barge (founded by Juliet Rogers and Gren Middleton in 1978) is moored in Little Venice for most of the year (and in Richmond during the summer).

The current barge theatre, purpose-built, was opened in 1982 and presents traditional fairy tales as well as classic drama and original plays.

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Join me tomorrow when I look at London’s theatre spaces beginning with ‘Q’.