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wilton's music hall
Photograph: Rob Greig

The world’s oldest surviving music hall is reopening in London

Wilton’s survived the last pandemic and it’ll survive this one

Andrzej Lukowski
Written by
Andrzej Lukowski

Wilton’s Music Hall first opened its doors a couple of decades into Queen Victoria’s reign, way back in 1859, and it’s fair to say it’s been through A Lot. Most notably, it was burned down in 1877, at the tender age of 18, necessitating a lengthy rebuild; later it was almost demolished in the slum clearances of the ’60s, and was in a semi-derelict state when it reopened as an entertainment venue in the late ’90s. 

Anyhoo, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and while Wilton’s had to shut down like everybody else earlier this year, it has announced a socially distanced return for the start of 2021, which is, frankly, great news.

Naturally there are no large-scale theatrical productions, but the Whitechapel music hall is perfectly suited to a cabaret-style season, which is what we’re getting: there are shows from long-established cabaret stars like The Tiger Lillies (who’ll be tackling the Cole Porter songbook in their own inimitably weird way in ‘Love for Sale’, February 23 to March 6) and Camille O’Sullivan, whose new solo piano show runs from March 9 to 13. And there’s some fruitier fare including ‘Friend (The One with Gunther)’ (February 1 to 6), a solo show from Brendan Murphy that retells all 236 episodes of ‘Friends’ from the perspective of dour barista Gunther.

For full listings and tickets, head to Wilton’s website.

What it’s like to visit a socially distanced theatre.

London theatre shows that are still happening.

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