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Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

  • Theatre
  • Regent’s Park
  • Recommended
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, 2021
Photo by: David JensenRegent’s Park Open Air Theatre, 2021
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Time Out says

London's most beautiful theatre lies tucked away in the middle of Regent's Park

Founded in 1932, central London's most beautiful and secluded theatre is surrounded by Regent's Park on every side and is completely uncovered – so consequently open only between May and September each year.

Though its twinkling, manicured prettiness makes Regent's Park Open Air Theatre resemble something out of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', the volume of Shakespeare performed on its stage has dwindled from almost exclusively to fairly sporadically under long-serving artistic director Timothy Sheader. His seasons generally start with a gritty opener, have a populist classic in the middle, then climax with one of the big musicals that he's made his name with. Around that there's acoustic gigs, comedy and usually some kids' theatre.

Ticket prices are comparable to the West End, though the sightlines are good at most prices. There are cheap tickets available for younger audiences (including the BREEZE membership scheme, which offers £10 tickets for 18-25-year-olds), and concessions can buy £20 standby tickets prior to the day's performance (from 5pm for evenings and noon matinees).

Having no roof, rain does sometimes lead to performance cancellations: if this happens you can exchange your ticket for a future performance, but no refund is permitted.

The Regent's Park Open Air Theatre has plenty of food options, from a barbecue to picnic hampers, and the bar is the longest in any London theatre.

If you're interested in theatre history, the Open Air Theatre's archives are available to view online at openairtheatreheritage.com and contain images galore of former company members include Benedict Cumberbatch, Judi Dench and Ralph Fiennes.

Details

Address:
Inner Circle
Regent's Park
London
NW1 4NR
Transport:
Tube: Baker St
Price:
Various
Opening hours:
Check website for show times
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What’s on

‘101 Dalmatians’ review

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Musicals

Adapted direct from Dodie Smith’s 1956 kids’ book – ie, absolute not a Disney production – ‘101 Dalmatians’ is a scrappy affair. It’s the first ever original musical from the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, and it boasts charming puppetry, big-name writers and a scream of a turn from Kate Fleetwood as the evil Cruella de Vil. But by the towering standards of the OAT – known for its revelatory musical revivals – it’s pretty uneven.  If you just view it as a fun kids’ show, you’d be more forgiving. In fact, I was pretty forgiving: I skipped press night and took my children the following afternoon. However, I wouldn’t say it’s really been pushed as a show for youngsters: historically the OAT’s musicals are aimed at an adult audience, the evening finish is certainly too late for my children, and the foregrounding of Fleetwood’s villainous Cruella de Vil in the publicity recalls Disney’s more adult-orientated spin-off film of last year (‘Cruella’). Anyway: my kids had fun at Timothy Sheader’s production. I mean, it starts with a protracted bottom-sniffing scene, for crying out loud, as grown-up dalmatians Pongo (Danny Collins and Ben Thompson) and Perdi (Emma Lucia and Yana Penrose) meet for the first time, give each other a good honk up the backside, fall in love and nudge their bookish, introverted human owners Dominic (Eric Stroud) and Danielle (Karen Fishwick) into starting a relationship. Skip forward a bit and humans and hounds have moved in together, and the latter have pro

Antigone

  • Drama

For ages now Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre seasons have started with a ‘serious’ play and ended with the big musical. Well, things have been modestly shaken up for the endlessly charming theatre’s ninetieth birthday season, which starts with one big musical (‘Legally Blonde’), continues with another big musical (‘101 Dalmations’) and winds up with poet and playwright Inua Ellams’s new spin on Sophocles’s intense tragedy ‘Antigone’, a pretty heavy note to round things off, that will entirely run in chillier September. His last adaptation, the National Theatre’s ‘Three Sisters’ was pretty high concept, relocating the action to ‘60s Nigeria. Whether he takes similar liberties with Sophocles’s story about a young princess's defiant burial of her brother’s body against city law is to be seen. But it should be a blast however he goes about it.

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