Located on The Haymarket, the Haymarket Theatre Royal first opened in 1720 under the title of The Little Theatre in the Haymarket.
This building sat a little further up the same street as the current building, which was moved when it was redesigned by John Nash in 1821. In 1873 the Haymarket became the first theatre to present matinee performances, a custom that was shortly followed by other establishments.
Six years later the auditorium underwent its first reconstruction that included the enclosure of the stage (making it the first use of picture frame proscenium) as well as the inclusion of stalls seating, therefore replacing the ´Pit´ - a move that instigated a small riot.
In 1862, the theatre presented ´Our American Cousin´, starring Edward Southern as Lord Dundreary. The success of this production brought the word ´dreary´ into every day use, seeing it added to the dictionary. In 1893, Oscar Wilde premiered his first comedy at the Haymarket ´A Woman of no Importance´, which was followed by ´An Ideal Husband´. Major reconstruction works in 1994 included art restoration of the ceiling, the cleaning of two thousand lead crystals in a chandelier, fresh carpet, marble polishing and air conditioning. There was bedlam at the theatre in May 2004 during a performance of ´When Harry Met Sally´ when parts of the ceiling fell in the audience below caused by the central chandelier coming away from the roof. The theatre closed for 2 nights but fortunately only a handful of people suffered a few cuts and bruises.
Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square underground stations are the closest to the theatre.
When purchasing tickets for mainstream theatre productions, it is important to keep the following in mind. The cheapest way to buy tickets is to buy directly from the theatres´ box office where the show is playing. Or, purchase your tickets from the ´Half Price Ticket Booth´ (AKA ´tkts´) located in Leicester Square, where they sell ´on the day´ tickets for all of the West End shows at a discount rate.
The booth is open Monday to Saturday from 10am - 7pm and Sundays from 12pm - 3.30pm. There is a maximum of 4 tickets per person.
Avoid touts hanging about the theatres and any other ticket agencies around the West End that appear a little dodgy as tickets may not be legitimate. Always ask if your seat is in a restricted viewing area.
You can also purchase a theatre and hotel package which saves money all round. However, the best thing to do if you have your heart set on seeing a particular show is to book ahead. You will be guaranteed a good seat, a great view and a fab night out.