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12 Things You Probably Didnt Know About The Theatre

Wednesday, 23rd Sep 2015

When it comes to theatre, you would expect nothing less than a few dramatic tales. Whether its fact, fiction or a bit of backstage superstition, here are some interesting things you probably never knew about some of London’s biggest theatres at West End sows.

1. Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap is the West End’s longest running play. Now showing at St Martin’s Theatre it has been running for 63 years and held approximately 23,000 performances since it first opened.

2. Les Miserables is the world’s longest running musical with over 10,000 performances under its belt. Since it first opened in 1985 at the Barbican Theatre, the show moved to the Palace Theatre before finally making its way to the Queen’s Theatre in 2004, where it can still be seen today.

3. The jukebox musical We Will Rock You featured 32 of Queen’s biggest hit songs. During its 12 year run the show was seen by over 5.6 million people at the Dominion Theatre before final closing in May 2014.

4. The tallest animal costume in The Lion King Musical is the giraffe, which is neck-creaking 5.5 metres high.

5.  London’s oldest theatre is Theatre Royal on Drury Lane. After first opening in 1663 it has experienced two fires and a demolition, making the current theatre the fourth to stand on the site.

6.  It takes two hours for the Phantom’s make-up to be applied and 30 minutes to remove after each performance.

7.  The expression ‘break a leg’ in the theatre dates back as far as the 1920s and to this day is used to wish performers the best of luck before taking to the stage.

8.  It is said that William Shakespeare himself used to live in a house that was located on the current site of The Barbican Centre.

9.  Disney's The Lion King is loosely based on the plot of Shakespeare's Hamlet – although it has a much more musical and happier ending! 

10. The first theatre to be named after an actor was the Garrick Theatre in 1889. The theatre was named after English actor and influential theatre extraordinaire David Garrick.

11. If you’ve been to a show at The Palace Theatre you may have noticed two open seats in the audience? What you may not know is that these are permanently bolted open for the theatre ghosts to sit in.

12. The 2013 production of Merrily We Roll Along at the Harold Pinter Theatre holds the record for most five star reviews ever given by the press to West End musical.

Article filed under: Theatre News | Articles |