Tuesday 17th April – 15th meeting of 2018
An exciting day ahead for us today. A guided tour of Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, booked for 2.15 pm for us nine ladies and two husbands who were joining us.
Trains were a little messed up and while on our train we had a call from some of our group to say that they were going straight to St Martin’s Crypt Cafe for lunch and that one of our ladies was missing! When we arrived at St Martin’s the missing lady was there and it appears that she missed the usual train because she got a bus to the station that went along the scenic route! Hence she caught a later train and went straight to the Crypt.
After lunch and much chatter we walked along the Strand to the Theatre. We had tickets for the tour which were £8.50 each and once we booked in a few more people joined us and we were met by our Guide. We stood in the main entrance hall and we were given a brief history of the theatre which is the oldest theatre in London and a theatre has stood on this site since 1663. At present it is owned by Really Useful Theatre Group which is wholly owned by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Previous buildings were managed by the great actor David Garrick and the famous playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan. The current building was opened in 1812 and has seating of over 2000.
After the introduction we went into the main building and our guide left us in the capable hands of the cleaner! Here an actress dressed as and playing the part of an old cleaner took over the tour. She was very amusing and told lots of stories about the comings and goings of the Theatre. There are two Royal boxes and we were taken to the grandest reception room of the King’s box. This one is used by the Royals and V.I.P.s when visiting. Lovely decoration and very spacious.
We went into the back of the auditorium and quickly and quietly walked across the back as a rehearsal was taking place. 42nd Street was the production. Then we where joined by our guide playing the part of an olden day actor!
Taken down lots and lots of stairs and we were under the stage and looking at the machinery etc of the revolving stage, trap door etc etc. The stage is very large and can accommodate many gadgets. Productions that have taken place here Miss Saigon, Oliver, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Oklahoma and many more.
We walked along a long passage deep underground where – the cleaner now Nell Gwen told us that ghosts are said to have been seen and many strange happenings have taken place here! But I’m not sure how much of that was true!!!
During the tour our hosts changed clothes and became different people from different times in the Theatres history. Our actor became David Garrick and our actress the cleaner and Nell Gwen. They were very amusing and entertaining and gave the tour such a pleasant friendly appeal.
This is a really lovely old theatre that over the last four years had undergone a massive refurbishment and looks magnificent!
We all really enjoyed this tour and found it to be such fun and very informative.