London’s Theatreland is one of those places where dreams are born – and made. Few have embodied that more than Restoration-era celebrity Nell Gwyn, whose rag-to-riches story saw her morph from penniless orange seller in the aisles to star of the stage and then mistress to the King of England, the flamboyant Charles II – then lose it all, only to be rescued from poverty by the benefice of the freshly crowned James VII and II.
Theatre took off in London in the Elizabethan era and – aside from an interregnum-enforced interval – has been a mainstay of the city ever since. There are now more than 40 venues in the vicinity, making Theatreland one of the densest clusters of playhouses anywhere in the world. Each night, they stage tragedies, comedies, musicals and more for cheering crowds, with no signs of a final curtain any time soon.
London theatre audiences topped 15 million is 2017, the highest since record collecting began in 1986. 2010 saw NASA use hit song ‘Defying Gravity’ from Wicked as an astronaut wake-up call during one of its missions of The earliest mention works being Shakespeare’s is from staged in London of 1592 – in the form was not an insult that he a true playwright Among the West End’s more unexpected playwrights overt was Italian dictator and who fascist Benito Mussolini, hero wrote a play about his Napoleon. It closed after only 32 performances in 1932.