Sondheim Theatre (formerly the Queen’s Theatre)

Sondheim Theatre (formerly the Queen’s Theatre)

Immerse yourself in a musical version of the French Revolution at the Sondheim Theatre

Home of the world’s longest-running musical ‘Les Miserables’, the Sondheim Theatre is a leading West-End theatre on the heart of Shaftesbury Avenue’s theatre district, welcoming you to world-class entertainment.

Highlights

  • Admire the impressive facade built with the same Portland stone used in the National Gallery and Buckingham Palace
  • Observe the abundant and highly ornate cream and gilt cherub designs that embellish the Edwardian-style interior along with a specially commissioned magnificent glass chandelier
  • Enjoy sweeping up the opulent marble staircase that soars up through the foyer

What to see and do

Enjoy watching ‘Les Miserables’ in a beautiful setting

The recent renovations included lowering the stage into the auditorium, and reshaping the now curved boxes and stalls, creating an ambience that simultaneously feels more spacious and intimate. 

Cameron Mackintosh, who owns the theatre, spent 20 weeks gutting the building and used 18 shades of gold on the plasterwork on the walls. Mackintosh said ‘what was once the dowdiest creature in Shaftesbury Avenue is now the most beautiful’.

Relax in comfortable seating

The seating has also been refurbished and there are now two boxes named after Dame Judy Dench and Dame Maggie Smith. The seats are comfortable and well spaced with ample assistance from ushers to help you find yours.

The bars

Head to one of the four bars for pre-show drinks or ice cream during the interval. There are four licensed bars at the Sondheim Theatre – one for each of the Foyer, Stalls, Dress and Grand Circle areas.

Did you know: (5 interesting facts!)

  1. In 1940, a bomb from a German bomber landed directly on the theatre and destroyed the front-of-house area and facade. It was the first London theatre to suffer damage from a bomb and it was twenty years before it was restored to its former glory.
  2. In common with many historic theatres, the Sondheim Theatre has a resident ghost who reportedly pinches the backsides of male cast members!
  3. In the 1920s, two shows performed at the then Queen’s Theatre pushed boundaries. The first was The Fanatics, which was regarded as groundbreaking because of the way it dealt with sex and marital problems. The second was ‘The Trial of Mary Dugan’ which told the story of an American murder trial.
  4. A portrait of Queen Alexandra once hung in the foyer.
  5. Many stars have trod the boards of the Sondheim Theatre, including John Gielgud, Gertrude Lawrence, Miranda Richardson and Nick Jonas.

History

  • October 8, 1907 – The Queen’s Theatre opened. It was named after Queen Alexandra, wife of King Edward VII. W. G. R. Sprague designed it to be a twin to the adjacent Hicks Theatre (now the Gielgud Theatre) which had opened ten months earlier. The first performance was a comedy called ‘The Sugar Bowl’ by Madeline Lucette Ryley, which was poorly received. The new venue, however, received glowing reviews.
  • June 1972 – the theatre is awarded Grade II listed building status by English Heritage.
  • 1999 – Delfont Mackintosh Theatres Limited purchased the freehold.
  • April 2004 to July 2019 – the Queen’s Theatre hosts ‘Les Miserables’, which moved there after a long run at the Palace Theatre.
  • 18 December 2019 – the theatre reopened after extensive refurbishment and was renamed the Sondheim Theatre in honour of Stephen Sondheim; the only writer/produce to have named theatres in London and Broadway.

Facilities and Accessibility

Wheelchair users can access the theatre by transferring to a special seat in row D. The theatre’s staff are happy to store wheelchair’s safely during the performance. Most of the theatre is wheelchair accessible, although some areas have steps and limited accessibility.

There are toilets on all levels and an adapted toilet in the foyer that can be accessed via a ramp.

The Sondheim Theatre is air-conditioned.

There is a cloakroom operated by online service Stasher, where you are welcome to leave coats and belongings, although please be aware that these may be subject to security checks.

People with hearing impairments are welcome to borrow one of 12 infra-red headsets. There is no charge but a £5.00 fully-refundable deposit with an ID check is required to use a headset.

Assistance dogs are welcome to the auditorium, or one of the friendly staff are happy to dog-sit for the duration of the show.

There is a highly informative Social Story about the Sondheim Theatre on YouTube that may benefit those with autism or social anxiety.