The Theatre Royal Haymarket is steeped in the West End’s history and is one of the oldest playhouses still being used for theatre. The venue’s origins date back to 1720, when it was opened as The First Haymarket Theatre and known to theatregoers as Little Theatre. The venue still holds relation to the latter of these original names, being a relatively intimate theatre with a capacity of 888 seats, spread over four levels.
The building’s current foundations are credited to David Edward Morris, who extensively rebuilt the structure in 1821, adding a proscenium and removing the pit for an opening production of Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The Rivals. However, the theatre’s original establishment as an officially licensed theatre goes back even further than this to Samuel Foots, who acquired a lease for the site in 1747, subsequently gaining a licence to perform drama in 1766.
In 1994, the theatre was closed for an impressive £1.3 million refurbishment and reopened later that year with a production of Arcadia, by the renowned modern playwright, Tom Stoppard. In more recent years, Theatre Royal Haymarket has continued its association with well-known names having had the likes of Bradley Cooper, Ralph Fiennes, Ian McKellen, and Patrick Stewart perform on its stage.
The theatre has been at the forefront of theatrical innovation and is perhaps most famous for staging the first scheduled matinee performance, a custom that is now an accepted practice for theatres across the West End.
Arnold M Crook has been a chairman of the Theatre Royal Haymarket in recent years and has seen the theatre host a multitude of new writing and reimaginings of classic texts. Notable recent productions include The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia? starring Damian Lewis and Sophie Okonedo, and a production of Venus In Fur starring Natalie Dormer.