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Playhouse Theatre

This substantial West End theatre offers an ever-changing line-up of hit shows


Time Out says

The stately curved frontage of The Playhouse Theatre loses none of its grandeur for butting onto Charing Cross station – a fact that caused disaster in 1905, when the railway station's roof collapsed and crushed the theatre's auditorium. After being rebuilt in 1907, the 786-seat Playhouse Theatre quickly recovered from its inauspicious beginnings. The short story master Somerset Maugham's play 'Home and Beauty' premiered there in 1919, and actor Alex Guinness made his stage debut at the Playhouse in 1934. 

When WWII hit, it became home to US servicemen who staged a production of 'Our Town', acting alongside female Londoners. And in 1951, the BBC took over the Playhouse, recording classic telly comedies like 'The Goon Show' and 'Steptoe and Son', as well as hosting performances by KISS, Queen, and The Beatles on the theatre's stage. 

When the Beeb left the Playhouse, things looked grim, and the theatre was dark for over a decade from 1976. But it had a surprising (if ignominious) return to glory in 1988, when novelist and politician Jeffrey Archer bought it up and reopened its doors. It changed hands a few times in subsequent years, including a spell with trouser-dropping retro farce writer Ray Cooney at the helm. But under current owners Ambassador Theatre Group, its future looks pretty secure.

A refurb supervised by English Heritage restored it to its 1905 glory, complete with reproduction paintings, gilt a plenty, and grand sculptures of winged women supporting its boxes. It has 786 seats over three levels, and packs audiences in with an ever-changing line-up of celeb vehicles, musicals, and transfers of Off-West End hits like Robert Icke's hugely successful '1984'. 


Northumberland Avenue
Rail/Tube: Charing Cross; Tube: Embankment
Opening hours:
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4 out of 5 stars

This review is of the original 2021 cast.  From March 11 until June 1 2024 Cara Delevigne will play Sally and Luke Treadway the Emcee.  From June 3 until September 21 Rhea Norwood will play Sally and Layton Williams the Emcee. Come to the cabaret, old chums, and see the stage performance of the year from Jessie Buckley! Gasp at the terrific supporting cast in Rebecca Frecknall’s luxury revival of Kander & Ebb’s musical masterpiece, foremost Omari Douglas’s passionate, tender, little boy lost Clifford! Be wowed by Tom Scutt’s literally transformative design! Wonder at the free schnapps you’re offered on the way in, and nod in polite appreciation at the pre-show entertainment! Also… there’s Eddie Redmayne. Now, I have absolutely nothing against the guy. But the presence of any hugely famous, Oscar-winning star is bound to distort the role of the Emcee of the Kit Kat Club: the Weimar-era Berlin bar in which ‘Cabaret’s tragic heroine Sally Bowles plies her trade. The Emcee is a vital supporting role: his sardonic songs set the mood of the show, and map Germany’s descent into darkness. But it’s in no way the lead role – in fact, the character barely interacts with the actual story. Putting by far the most famous actor in the show in the role would be enormously distracting even if they didn’t do… this. Wearing a series of beautiful, subtly sinister outfits that kind of feel like they’re trying to process every single one of David Bowie’s sartorial choices from ’73 to ’83 (more on

  • Musicals
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