The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane is a West End theatre in Covent Garden, in the City of Westminster, a borough of London. The building faces Catherine Street (earlier named Bridges or Brydges Street) and backs onto Drury Lane. The building standing today is the most recent in a line of four theatres at the same location dating back to 1663, making it the oldest London theatre. For its first two centuries, Drury Lane could "reasonably have claimed to be London's leading theatre" and thus one of the most important theatres in the English-speaking world. Through most of that time, it was one of a small handful of patent theatres that were granted monopoly rights to the production of "legitimate" (meaning spoken plays, rather than opera, dance, concerts, or plays with music) drama in London.
The first theatre on the location was built at the behest of Thomas Killigrew in the early years of the English Restoration. Actors appearing at this "Theatre Royal in Bridges Street" included Nell Gwyn and Charles Hart. It was destroyed by fire in 1672. Killigrew built a larger theatre in the same spot, designed by Christopher Wren; renamed the "Theatre Royal in Drury Lane," it opened in 1674. This building lasted nearly 120 years, under leadership including Colley Cibber, David Garrick, and Richard Brinsley Sheridan. In 1791, under Sheridan's management, the building was demolished to make way for a larger theatre which opened in 1794. This enormous new Drury Lane survived just 15 years, burning down in 1809. The building that stands today opened in 1812. It has been home to actors as diverse as Shakespearean Edmund Kean, comedian Dan Leno, comedy troupe Monty Python (who recorded a concert album there), and musical composer and performer Ivor Novello. Today, the theatre is owned by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and generally stages popular musical theatre. It is a Grade I listed building.
Theatre Royal - Drury Lane
Architect 1663 Thomas Killigrew
Owned by Really Useful Theatres
Capacity 2,196 (4 levels)
Type West End theatre
Rebuilt 1674 Christopher Wren
1794 Henry Holland
1812 Benjamin Dean Wyatt
Previous names Theatre Royal, Bridges St
Production The Lord of the Rings