History | Theatre Royal
Granted its Royal licence by King George III, the Theatre Royal Newcastle opened on Drury Lane off Mosley Street in 1788 and soon established itself as one of England’s leading theatres.
Three months before Queen Victoria ascended the throne, in February 1837, the Theatre moved to Grey Street, a flagship building in Grainger and Dobson’s famous city plan. It features what is generally regarded as the finest Theatre façade in the UK, later combined with a fine 1901 auditorium by one of the great Theatre architects, Frank Matcham after the original interior had been destroyed by fire in 1899.
Over the centuries, many of the great names of the English stage have played at the Royal, from Keane to Irving, Olivier to Dench and the Hollywood greats Orson Welles, Charlton Heston and Jack Lemmon have also trodden the famous boards. In 2009 the modern great Sir Ian McKellen described the Theatre Royal Newcastle as his favourite theatre.
The Grade I Listed Theatre today is both neo-classical monument and cultural engine, with an annual audience of 335,000 and over 380 performances each year. The third home of the Royal Shakespeare Company, alongside Stratford-upon-Avon and London, its programme is rich and varied featuring world-class drama, including National Theatre productions, an Opera North Season, and a rich array of contemporary dance, musicals and comedy.
The New Short History of the Theatre Royal - now on sale!
Written by popular local history author Vanessa Histon, it tells the story of the Theatre and the many great performers associated with it, from 1788 to the present day. Richly illustrated in full-colour.
Available online to buy online or the Box Office (20% off for Friends when booking at the box office).
See also The Story of Theatre, a permanent exhibition area and learning space in the Gallery Foyer at the Theatre Royal, illustrating the history of Theatre from its origins in Ancient Greece through to the present day.