In the heart of Newcastle, a short distance away from Grey’s Monument is the Theatre Royal. The theatre was one of the core elements of the Neoclassical re-development of Newcastle’s city centre, led by Richard Grainger and John Dobson in the 19th century. It was the second Theatre Royal in Newcastle, with the first being established with King George III in 1788, the monarch who gave the theatre its royal charter. It quickly became a centre of the dramatic scene and developed a great reputation in the region.
The current building was opened in 1837 and because of Richard Grainger’s work quickly became known as one of the best façades of any theatre in the British Isles. The Theatre was then repaired after a fire swept through the Grainger town in 1899 – which started within the theatre the night after ‘The Scottish Play’ (Macbeth to the less suspicious) was performed within the theatre.
The current building was opened in 1837 and because of Richard Grainger’s work quickly became known as one of the best façades of any theatre in the British Isles
The famous theatre architect Frank Matcham reconstructed the interior in grand style and extended the theatre, making it one of the most impressive in the country. Over time the interior became damaged, and when the council took over in 1967, the interior was modernised to the fashion of the 1960s and 1970s. This modernisation lacked a great deal of beauty and it was decided to refurbish the theatre again.
In 2011 the theatre was refurbished for six months back to the 1901 interior designed by Frank Matcham, ready for the 175th birthday of the theatre. The theatre is also proud to be one of nine grade one listed theatres in the United Kingdom, an honour it truly deserves.
Inside the theatre, you can also enjoy a permanent historical exhibition called ‘the story of theatre’, presented in partnership with Tyne and Wear Museums, Vindolanda and the V&A in London to show the heritage of theatre from ancient times to today. The theatre has a wide range of shows from Shakespeare and classic drama, to comedy, ballet and dance, opera and the much-loved annual pantomimes, drawing massive crowds from across the North East.
The panto is one of the best in the country, especially if you ask the theatre staff. The Theatre Royal prides itself for having a fantastic range of shows and being a core part of the North East of England’s art and culture, developing close connections with theatres across the country, with travelling shows being a regular part of the entertainment. The Theatre Royal is well worth a visit during your visit to Newcastle.