My recent post on top tips for finding cheap(er) theatre tickets post was quite successful, so I thought you might all appreciate a top tips post on stagey things to do in London! Whether to accompany your day/weekend in London seeing shows or you just fancy a theatre-themed weekend, I hope I can help!
Visit The Stage Door
If you consider yourself invested in the theatre industry, you’ll know what the stage door is, but there was a time when I certainly didn’t! I remember the first time I went to stage door was after seeing Lee Mead in Legally Blonde at the Savoy Theatre in London and I’ve been hooked since! To put it simply, stage door is the entrance/exit that the actors, backstage crew, orchestra and other crew use to access the theatre. You can usually visit the stage door before or after shows to say hello and get pictures with the cast.
Make sure that if you do visit the stage door to be respectful to all cast and crew as well as fellow fans. It’s probably also worth checking the site’s website or asking beforehand what the stage door situation is like at each theatre because recently Heathers at The Haymarket announced their limitations on stage dooring. Also, remember that when visiting stage door, you aren’t entitled to meet or get a photo with anyone – if an actor or crew member stops, it’s because they want to and not because they have to.
Pay a Visit to the Theatre Cafe
Again, most theatre fans in London especially, will have heard of The Theatre Cafe but if not, it’s exactly as it sounds: a Theatre-based Cafe in the heart of London! Located on Shaftesbury Avenue, just opposite the Queen’s Theatre is a beautiful cafe that plays show-tunes and features theatre merchandise. If you pay a visit, make sure to check out all the posters on the walls, the signatures on the bathroom doors and take a photo with its legendary bathroom mirrors!
It’s also worth checking their website for events they host! The Theatre Cafe regularly has theatre stars popping in for songs and meet-and-greets, the cast of London shows doing the same, quizzes, open mics and celebrations of all sorts! Definitely check out the website before you head into London and see what’s going on!
Go to an Exhibition
This is definitely worth a research before you head into London but it can be worth doing! Occasionally, theatre-based exhibitions pop up in-and-around London, with the most recent one being Disney’s theatre pop-up; displaying costumes and props from Aladdin and The Lion King on stage.
A different exhibition was featured in the V&A museum which was a celebration of 40 years of theatre in London and New York. It was called Curtain Up and I honestly think I went 3 times without getting bored. Similar to the Disney pop-up, it featured costumes and propps but instead from an array of shows both from London and Broadway.
Definitely worth a research into theatre-based exhibitions before starting your stagey time in London!
Eat Using A Pre-Theatre Menu
In the heart of London of course you’ll find plenty of restaurants. But what is worth keeping your eyes open for is restaurants that do pre-theatre menus. Some restaurants will offer you discounts off your food if you show a theatre ticket for a show that evening. Maybe not the most theatre-based thing to do but definitely can help make a trip to London for a show that little bit more special!
However, if you wanted to make your dinner more than just that, there are a few “stagey” restaurants available! The restaurant Joe Allen in Covent Garden, for example, is very theatre-based and a great place to eat.
Eat at a Theatre-Inspired Food Venue
A new Mamma Mia/Abba themed restaurant is also soon-to-be opening up in London! Mamma Mia The Party features singing, dancing and dining Mamma Mia style and will be in London’s O2 Arena. This probably isn’t one to go to before seeing a show but can add to an amazing theatre-based weekend.
If you google the phrase “West End Brunch” you’ll find an array of different services that offer just that – a musical style brunch. This particular one, for example, offers brunch in London featuring West End stars, theatre songs (and dancing), entertainment and a fabulous 2-course brunch with a bottomless option if that’s what you fancy! Definitely a stagier version of a normal brunch!
Meet Up with Like-Minded People
If you’re going to the theatre alone and want some stagey company, it’s definitely
worth checking the Musical Theatre Appreciation Society Facebook Group. On this group, meetups are regularly organised for group trips to see shows together, or you can announce that you’re going to the theatre and see if anyone is also going to the same performance. It’s a really great way to bring fans of theatre shows together!
Don’t Just Go Home!
More and more recently, London has started showcasing off some amazing theatre talent after the regular performances have finished! Events such as Kinky Kabaret (Every Monday night at Freedom Bara Soho) and The Show Goes On (every Monday night at Studio 88) showcase theatre stars out of costume and in their element! With drinks flowing and professional entertainment until all hours, these exciting nights are not to be missed.
If you fancy something a little more chilled out, however, venues Brasserie Zedel hosts an event called Live at Zedel, which is a more relaxing, yet still entertaining, version of Kinky Kabaret and The Show Goes On. Live at Zedel has seen the likes of Eva Noblezada, Melanie Bright and Emma Kingston grace their stage, and these ladies do not let you down. Definitely a classy way to keep your theatre night going. Do check the times of these events though, as sometimes they start before your show would finish. Maybe something to do on a Sunday night when fewer shows are on if you want to prolong a stagey weekend as long as possible!
Attend the West End Bake Off
This is an event that happens once a year but makes for a great stagey afternoon! West End Bake Off is an event that has taken place annually since 2015 where shows in the West End compete against one another by submitting home-made cakes and bakes to win the competition! Always held in the spring/summer, this makes for a great event where some of the cast of the competing shows are there showcasing their baking talent! In previous years, some big musical names such as Michael Ball and Ruthie Henshall have attended to judge the event – definitely not one to miss!
Attend West End Live
West End Live – similar to West End Bake Off – is a one-off event that takes place every year in Trafalgar Square. It’s essentially the theatre-lover’s Glastonbury. The free event runs across a weekend in the summer and is a showcase for London’s musicals – from big and long-running shows such as Les Miserables and Wicked to touring shows and one off performances from West End stars and West End schools. Definitely one of my favourite theatre events that takes place in London!
……and if you’re lucky enough….you might even end up on the stage…..
Yes this really happened! On the West End Live stage in front of 10,000 people!
Wait on the Olivier Awards Red Carpet
The Olivier Awards is an award ceremony dedicated to all things London theatre. To really get involved with this massive night in theatre history, one popular thing that theatre fans do is wait on the red carpet for their favourite theatre stars to make their appearances.
Also, in recent years, Covent Garden Piazza has been host to an Olivier Awards warmup stage featuring performances from London’s shows. Check out some pictures from the 2015 Piazza event by photographer Alistair Veryard.
Hope that gave you some advice on how to theatre-up your next trip to London!