St James’s boasts three of London’s finest theatres - The Theatre Royal Haymarket, Her Majesty’s Theatre, and Jermyn Street Theatre - so whether you’re in the mood for a large scale musical or an intimate arthouse production, you’ll find yourself perfectly catered to, and with the area’s outstanding array of pre-theatre dining options there’s really no excuse to not make a night of it.
The Theatre Royal Haymarket
The Theatre Royal Haymarket is one of London’s most famous playhouses, and it regularly attracts talent like Sir Ian McKellen, Sir Patrick Stewart, Joanna Lumley and Sienna Miller. It dates back to 1720 which makes it the third-oldest London theatre still in use, and, in addition to its reputation for world class theatre, is also famous for its resident ghost; friendly actor manager John Buckstone, has been seen multiple times in the theatre, including sightings by actors Judi Dench and Donald Sinden. Supposedly Buckstone’s phantom is very attached to his old dressing room as staff have been known to report a ghostly voice reciting lines backstage.
Currently the theatre is showing ‘Heathers: The Musical’, a hilarious adaptation of the classic 1980s movie that also opens up conversations about dark issues, including bullying and violence in schools. Later in the year, the theatre will also present ‘The Band’ a musical for boyband lovers, featuring music by the band ‘Take That’ most successful boyband of all time.
Her Majesty’s Theatre
Her Majesty’s Theatre, also has its own phantom. The ghost of actor-manager Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree apparently haunts the theatre’s top box, stage right, with visitors reporting cold spots and the door of the box suddenly opening of its own accord.
Her Majesty’s Theatre is one of the jewels in the crown of London’s Theatreland. The theatre has been showing the enduringly popular Phantom of the Opera since 1986, a show whose popularity shows no sign of slowing.
Interestingly, the theatre’s name depends on the sex of the monarch, and it does change. It first became the King's Theatre in 1714 on the accession of George I. It was renamed Her Majesty's Theatre in 1837. Most recently, the theatre was known as His Majesty's Theatre from 1901 to 1952, and it became Her Majesty's on the accession of Queen Elizabeth II.
Jermyn Street Theatre
From one of the largest to one of the smallest, Jermyn Street Theatre specialises in intimate arthouse productions, and is the perfect destination for culture vultures. Located in the basement of 16b Jermyn Street, the building used to house the glamorous Monseigneur Restaurant and Club in the 1930s and was converted into a theatre in the 1990s by Howard Jameson and Penny Horner.
Artistic Director Tom Littler is famous for encouraging the staging of outstanding contemporary pieces, rare revivals, and innovative reimaginings of old classics, and the nature of the space means that audiences get an unusually intimate experience with every performance. Its Jermyn Street location also places it near a selection of fine restaurants, with famous steakhouse Rowley’s across the road, and the international culinary delights of St James’s Market just moments away.
The Theatre has many must-see productions showing in the next few months. For the rest of September, the public are invited to experience “About Leo”, an enthralling drama about the artist Leonora Carrington. In the following months, the theatre will also present “Parents’ Evening” an acclaimed comedy about modern marriage and parenthood, “Billy Bishop Goes to War” a true story that explores the complexities of heroism in Britain’s colonial past, and “Burke and Hare”, an uproarious comedy about a truly wicked way to make money.