Celebrating London theatres: the ‘U’s to ‘Z’s

Welcome to the final installment of Celebrating London Theatres.


The Unicorn Theatre, located on Tooley Street, London Bridge, is aimed at audiences aged 2-21. It is housed in a custom-based building which opened in 2005.

With two performance spaces (the Weston and the Clore), the Unicorn acts as both a receiving and producing house. Its origins as a theatre company date back to 1947, when Caryl Jenner founded the Mobile Theatre. From 1967 to 2005 the Unicorn was based at the Arts Theatre.

The current artistic director is Justin Audibert.

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The Union Theatre can be found a short walk from Waterloo station, in a railway arch just off Union Street. It boasts a bar and cafe serving hot and cold food throughout the day.

Established (and still run by) Sasha Regan in 1998, the theatre has a reputation for staging both new and revived musicals in its 75 seater performance space, to which they moved in 2016.

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Union Chapel

Based in Islington, the Union Chapel is a live entertainment venue in a working church. With live music, spoken word, film and comedy events, the Chapel hosts more than 200 events per year.

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The Vaudeville is a West End theatre based on the Strand. Opened in 1926 in the current building, this 690 seat house is Grade II listed and owned by Nimax. It is currently home to Mischief Theatre’s Magic Goes Wrong.


The Vaults is a collection of venues known both for an annual theatre, comedy and cabaret festival, and for immersive and theatre profuctions throughout the year.

The Vaults Theatre has two flexible performances spaces and is based on Lancelot Street, off Lower Marsh and beneath Waterloo station. The festival and immersive venue The Vaults can be found within the Leake Street Tunnels.

The Vaults receives external productions, as well as co-producing work and creating shows in-house. As a home for immersive and alternative arts, The Vaults is in a unique position to support emerging theatre companies who operate outside of the norm.

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Victoria Palace

The Victoria Palace, which has been home to the musical Hamilton for three years, was opened in 1911, designed by Frank Matcham. Known for revues and musicals in its first two decades, it was home to comedy group The Crazy Gang during the 1950s, and to the Black and White Minstrel Show through the 1960s.

For the last thirty years, the Victoria Palace has presented musicals, notably Buddy, Billy Elliot and now, following a restoration by current owners Delfont Mackintosh, Hamilton.

Waterloo East

Based on Brad Street in Waterloo, Waterloo East Theatre opened in 2010 in a disused railway arch. Founded by producer and actor Gerald Armin, the theatre seats 100. It is known for both championing new writing and for revivals and European premieres.

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Based in Brentford, the Watermans Arts Centre opened in 1978 and comprises a 239-seat theatre, a 125-seat cinema, and galleries and studio space.

At first known for live music, Watermans has become closely associated with Asian-British arts, children’s theatre, cabaret, dance and media arts.

The Watermans also has an outdoor venue, Bell Square, in Hounslow Town Centre, which it operates during the summer.

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White Bear

The White Bear Theatre was founded in 1988 at the White Bear pub in Kennington, and is run by founder and artistic director Michael Kingsbury.

Dedicated to both new writing and the Lost Classics Project (producing obscure historical works), the performance space seats 50.

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Wigmore Hall

Opened as Bechstein Hall in 1901 by C. Bechstein Pianofortefabrik, part of a chain of halls across Europe, the Wigmore was renamed after the First World War.

Since 2005 the Wigmore has been leased by the Wigmore Hall Trust, following a restoration. The hall seats 545 and includes a small balcony. Its current director is John Gilhooly.

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Wilton’s Music Hall

A Grade II* listed building in Shadwell, off Cable Street, Wilton’s Music Hall is one of a handful of surviving musical halls, and retains many original features.

After a long period of inactivity, Wilton’s reopened in 1999, and has been a producing house since 2004. It stages opera, puppetry, classical music, dance, magic and cabaret as well as distinctive theatre in the music hall tradition.

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A West End theatre based next to Leicester Square station, Wyndham’s opened in 1899 by Charles Wyndham. With a capacity of 799, it is Grade II* listed and has been owned by Delfont Mackintosh since 2005.

For a year across 2008/9 it presented a season of productions which transferred from the Donmar Warehouse.

The Yard

The Yard is based in Queen’s Yard alongside Hackney Wick station, and opened in 2011. It was built from salvaged material in a converted warehouse, and the current artistic director is Jay Miller.

The theatre itself has a capacity of 110, and the bar space can accommodate 250 standing. The Yard also operates two community spaces: Hub67 in Hackney Wick and The Hall in East Village both have a capacity of 60.

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Ye Olde Rose and Crown

Located in the heart of Walthamstow, Ye Olde Rose and Crown is an award-winning theatre pub, which hosts a range of productions including plays, musicals and folk music.

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Young Vic

The Young Vic, based on The Cut within easy reach of both Waterloo and Southwark stations, was originally a company offshoot of the Old Vic, and dates back to 1970 as an theatre. Opened as part of the National Theatre, it became an independent body in 1974.

Originally aimed at young audiences (but not children) with accessible productions, the Young Vic was refurbished in 2006, retaining the butcher’s shop entrance to the box office.

It has three performances spaces (Main House, capacity 420; Maria, capacity 150; Clare, capacity 70). Its current artistic director is Kwame Kwei-Armah.

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And with that, the series is complete! I’ve tried to include all theatrical venues, big and small, and would urge you all to consider supporting your favourites, if you can afford to do so.

I wish each and every one of London’s thestres all the best during this period of hiatus, and look forward to visiting as many as possible when a sense of normality returns.