5 Best Backstage Theatre Tours in London

Some of my best memories as a growing kid were theatre related. I played Maria in West Side Story for the Somerset Youth Theatre, spent all my birthdays at West End shows with my old Pa, and just soaked up being close to anyone who came near me with a sparkling jazz hand. The seeds were planted early, and if you know any budding theatre lovers, then why not start via the stage door, like I did.

A great way to spend a morning or afternoon is to take a trip backstage around one of London’s many beautiful theatres. Not only will the tour tickets cost little more than a sandwich, you will get the chance to peek into the dressing rooms and tread the boards where many famous actors spend their time feeling sick with nerves.

If you do get the chance to take a tour, leave me a comment below, to share your thoughts, just a quick rating out of 5 will do. Break a leg, darling.

1. The Royal Court

The tours (usually at 10.30 or 11am) take you behind the scenes of the Royal Court, into the offices and sites where the scripts are read, rehearsals take place and the productions are brought to life. You’ll hear the history of the building, explaining the redesign of 2000, as well as the history of the company and our on-going work with new writers. Tickets £7 or free on Open House Weekends.

2. The London Coliseum

The London Coliseum, commissioned by the great theatrical impressario Oswald Stoll and designed by the flamboyant theatre architect Frank Matcham, opened as a Music Hall in 1904. It is considered to be Matcham’s masterpiece and is a sensational example of Edwardian architecture in the grand style. It quickly became known as ‘The Peoples Palace’; a theatre that was affordable to enter but which would also inspire a sense of wonder and excitement. Each tour lasts approximately one hour and includes quite a lot of walking so please be aware that there are quite a few stairs to climb. Prices for adults are £10 and £8 for kids.

3. The Almeida Theatre

You can find out more about the history of this fascinating building on their theatre tours. Led by an experienced guide, the tours explore the depths of the theatre, including the backstage, wardrobe and technical areas. Your visit will also cover the history of the theatre, from lecture room to music hall and carnival novelties factory. Theatre Tours, Ticket prices: £6 – £7

4. Theatre Royal, Drury Lane 

Through The Stage Door is a unique and enchanting experience – a dramatised tour led by professional actors who inform and entertain, taking you on a memorable journey through the theatre’s history. Meet famous characters including, Garrick, Sheridan, Grimaldi and Nell Gwyne. The tour lasts approximately 1 hour, and are daily at 2.15pm and 4.15pm (Wednesdays at 10.30 and 11.45am). Adults £10.50, Children and Seniors £8.50, groups of 10 or more £8.50 per person. : Family ticket £30.00 (2 Adults and 2 Children)

5. Globe Theatre

The expert guides will take you on a fascinating tour of the iconic Globe Theatre, bringing the space to life with colourful stories of the 1599 Globe, of the reconstruction process in the 1990s, and of how the ‘wooden O’ works today as an imaginative and experimental theatrical space.Tours begin every 30 minutes

6. Palladium Theatre

Guided tours of the nation’s favourite theatre are usually run at 11.30am on the second Friday of each month when the theatre is not dark. Each tour lasts a minimum of 2 hours covering the performance, architectural and social history of the London Palladium.Tickets for the tour are £12 each and the total capacity per tour is 30 people. As there are lots of stairs, the tour is not recommended for the infirm and ladies are advised to wear flat shoes.

7. The National Theatre

The National Theatre is a working building, producing over 20 new productions every year. Preparation for the shows, including rehearsals, prop and costume-making all happen on site. No two tours are ever the same, so come and see what’s happening behind the scenes. Tours last 75 mins, and cost £8.50