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An old image of Grey Street

Our Story

Our History

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.

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 the great Theatre architect, Frank Matcham, after the original interior had been destroyed by fire during a performance of Macbeth in 1899.

Many great names of the English stage have trodden its famous boards; from Keane to Irving, Olivier to Dench as well as Hollywood greats Orson Welles, Charlton Heston and Jack Lemmon. Sir Ian McKellen once described Newcastle Theatre Royal as his favourite theatre.

A drawing of an historical street scene

The New Short History of the Theatre Royal by Vanessa Histon

A richly illustrated journey of the Theatre and the many great performers associated with it. Available to purchase from the Box Office priced at £6.99 (20% off for Friends when buying at the Box Office) or for £8.39 including p&p. Please note our Box Office counter and phone sales are currently suspended due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Display cabinets showcasing theatre costumes

The Story of Theatre

Visit the exhibition area in the Gallery Foyer to view an exquisite collection illustrating the history of theatre from its origins in Ancient Greece through to the present day.

Please note: The Story of the Theatre is on the Gallery Foyer which is only accessible to ticket holders when the building is fully open for a performance.

Celebrating 175 Years of Theatre Royal

In 2012, Grey Street was transformed like never before for a dazzling celebration of magical entertainment to mark Newcastle Theatre Royal’s 175th birthday. Stunning street theatre, a magnificent fireworks display and a star-studded gala performance produced by our pantomime maestro Michael Harrison followed a tour of the historic Theatre and its newly restored auditorium by HRH The Duke of York and Princess Eugenie of York.  

The Birthday Blaze was commissioned by Theatre Royal Newcastle, created by The World Famous and produced by Pinwheel.

Restoration

Newcastle Theatre Royal is one of only nine Grade 1 Listed theatres in England and since opening in 1837, has been renovated many times. 

In 2011, a six month restoration recreated Matcham’s classic 1901 Edwardian design with reprinted wallpapers, reinstated lost tilework, carpets featuring the original patterns and extensive gold leaf work, period light fittings, brassware and ornamentation throughout. New seating was reconfigured in all areas – 1901 in style, but modern in comfort.

The famous Grey Street portico was given a new lease of life thanks to conservation measures to clean and protect its iconic structure and installation of a new lighting system to show off the splendour of the main entrance. A full backstage refurbishment including the full upgrade of a suite of dressing rooms completed the extensive works.

Thank You

We are also extremely grateful to all those who have lent their support to the Theatre by becoming a 175 anniversary patron, a 175 anniversary partner or by naming a seat or making a donation.

In addition, we would like to thank the following organisations and individuals for their kind contribution towards the restoration of the Theatre Royal.  We are immensely grateful to them for their generous support.

The Friends of the Theatre Royal
The Barbour Foundation
The Heritage Lottery Fund
Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust
The Garfield Weston Foundation
J Paul Getty Jr Charitable Trust
The Gillian Dickinson Charitable Trust

The Monument Trust, one of the Sainsbury Family charitable trusts
RFF Gibson Charitable Trust
Percy Hedley 1990 Charitable Trust
The Storrow Stott Charitable Trust
The Late Joyce Ashton Thwaites
The Sir James Knott Trust