Guide to Covent Garden Theatres
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As part of the West End (London's theatre district), Covent Garden is surrounded by world renowned theatres. Landmark theatres, such as the Palace Theatre at Cambridge Circus (currently hosting the smash hit Monty Python's Spamalot) are draws in and of themselves. A list of the beloved shows performed by star studded casts on any given night of the week includes favourites like the Lion King, Wicked, Mamma Mia and many, many more!
The West End, also known at Theatreland, consists of the area round Leicester Square and Covent Garden as well as the shopping meccas of Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street. A simple way to think about the West End is that it encompasses anywhere within walking distance of Piccadilly Circus. Within this area, dozens of theatres compete to offer theatregoers the best in live dramatic entertainment. Along with New York's Broadway, the West End represents commercial theatre at its most successful and celebrated levels.
With so many options, deciding on which performance to catch can be difficult. One particular all-time favourite show is The Mousetrap, which is actually the longest running play in the world.
Based on the story by beloved murder mystery writer, Agatha Christie, The Mousetrap is in its 56th consecutive year with over 23,000 performances under its belt. For the past 34 years, The Mousetrap has been performed at St Martin's Theatre on West Street. Taking in this historic play is a brilliant way to experience the West End at its best.
Just down the road from St Martin's Theatre is the world's longest running musical, Les Miserables at the Queen's Theatre (51 Shaftesbury Avenue). Now in its 23rd year, the show has is celebratingan unprecedented 9,000 performances at the Queen's Theatre and shows no signs of slowing down. Recently voted the most popular show in the world, 'Les Mis' is sure to please.
Once your mind is made up as to which shows interest you most, a good idea for getting your tickets is head over to tkts at the Clocktower building in nearby Leicester Square. Founded in 1980, tkts is the only official half price and discount ticket outlet operated by the Society of London Theatre, the industry group which represents London's theatres. tkts sells tickets for shows daily. They are open from 10am to 5pm Monday through Saturday and noon to 3pm on Sundays. If tickets for the show you wish to see are not available at tkts, it might still be worth trying directly at the theatre. Theatre box offices open at 10am. For advance full-price sales, contact the theatres' box offices or have a have a look on the web at tkts booking service (www.officiallondontheatre.co.uk) or other online booking sites.
Of course, with so many great theatres in and near Covent Garden, the area has plenty of outstanding dining options. Many eateries accommodate the theatre crowds with pre- and post-theatre bookings and menus. An abundance of virtually every sort of eating establishment imaginable awaits. One particular eatery oozing with Theatreland charm is Joe Allen at 13 Exeter Street. Its brick walls lined with show posters and flyers from several decades ensures there's never a lull in the conversation. Service is efficient yet informal and friendly. Joe Allen's discreet entrance and cavernous basement settling wows first timers and keeps the regulars coming back for more.
Covent Garden's central location means going to the theatre, and then carrying on from there (or simply calling it a night) is reachable from practically anywhere in London. The area is within walking distance of several of Tube stations and bus stops, and the popularity of the area as an entertainment destination ensures a steady flow of cabs throughout the day and night. Enjoying a night of world class theatre in a world class city couldn't be easier!