Our 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; Sir Ian McKellen has described the Theatre Royal as his favourite theatre.  

The Grade I Listed Theatre today is both neo-classical monument and cultural engine, with an annual audience of 400,000 and over 400 performances each year; the finest drama, the brightest West End musicals, the cream of the comedy circuit, award winning ballet and dance, family friendly shows, sensational opera – and (we think) the best Pantomime in the country!  

The New Short Histroy of the Theatre Royal book

The New Short History of the Theatre Royal. 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. At 76 pages a delightful and fascinating book, richly illustrated in full-colour throughout.

£6.99 in person from the Box Office (20% off for Friends when buying at the Box Office) or, for £8.39 including p&p, buy online here.

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.