Wimbledon isn’t just about tennis. The borough is home to a lively bunch of residents and tourists visit to see some of the best shows outside of London. The borough boasts two main theatres, and one is specifically for kids.
But the main venue is the New Wimbledon Theatre. The theatre boasts some of the best productions in the world, and there are worldwide names visiting the theatre weekly.
New Wimbledon Theatre
The New Wimbledon Theatre has been opened for 107 years after first opening its doors in 1910. The theatre is a Grade II listed theatre building by J.B. Mulholland in the Edwardian style. The theatre was built on a site with spacious grounds, and the original design incorporated a Turkish bath in the basement of the building.
The bath was the only included in a British theatre.
When the theatre first opened in December 1910, it put on a Jack and Jill pantomime. Times between wars were very popular for the theatre. During these periods, the theatre grew in popularity and played a major role in the transition back to normalcy for residents.
Oliver!, a production of Lionel Bart, premiered at the theatre for the first time in 1960. Markova, Gracie Fields, Ivor Novello and Noel Coward are a few of the big names to grace the theatre’s stage.
Refurbishment and Current Capacity
The old theatre was turned new in recent decades, with two main refurbishments taking place in 1991 and 1998. The new refurbishments helped the building maintain much of its past, with Adamesque internal features and a baroque style remaining inside.
A golden goddess statue was recently put back on top of the theatre during the 1991 refurbishment.
The original statue was removed during World War II.
The venue now boasts 1,670 seats spread across three levels. There is an 80 seat studio inside the venue as well.
The studio is a small venue space that is considered a “flexible space.” The room is adjoined to the main auditorium and is also home to small comedy and drama productions.
The theatre offers access for guests of all mobility levels. When visiting the theatre, disabled guests have access to:
Main house stalls
Adapted toilets and bar facilities
Guests who require guide dogs can bring them along, too.
Eight buses leave guests close to the venue. The Wimbledon Rail is a mere 5 minute walk away. The Wimbledon District Line offers the closest tube.
The venue’s shows change from day to day, but the best shows playing include:
Let’s Twist Again
Lord of the Dance
More Miller Magic
Tickets can be purchased online or over the phone. An annual pantomime is available each Christmas and is a must-see.
The venue has welcomed some of the biggest names in the world to their stage, from Dirk Bogarde to Tommy Steele and Robin Williams. The iconic venue was chosen to be the venue of the HR during the Prince of Wales’ 60th Birthday.
The Polka Theatre is a children’s theatre that caters to crowds between 0 and 13 years of age. The venue is a registered charity that’s sponsored by trusts and individuals, and first opened in 1967 as a puppet touring company.
The theatre as it stands today opened in 1979 with a Gala marking the opening. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was in attendance.
Productions for kids 5 and under were regularly produced in 1983.
The productions were produced in the Adventure Theatre. In-house and visiting productions from across the UK put on shows.
Seating and Accommodations
Seating and accommodations are available for 300 guests in the main auditorium and 70 guests in the studio. Polka is committed to ensuring every guest is accommodated, with the company asking guests with special requirements to call ahead.
When booking, you can divulge any special requirements necessary to make your show comfortable.
Guests can enjoy:
Fully integrated sign language performances
Touch tours are available for the visually impaired
Step-free access into the building
Guests will need to take a lift to the Main Theatre. The rest of the venue, including the café and garden, are easy to access.
A relaxed performance show is offered to guests who have autism or sensitivity issues. Call ahead of time and inquire about performances best suited to an individual’s needs.
Numerous shows are put on monthly, but being a smaller venue, most of the shows have a long span and are in-house productions.
Babe, the Sheep-pig is a must-see and is great for kids aged 9 – 11. All shows are posted on the theatre’s website and include age recommendations to help you better choose a show.
This is one of the best kid’s theatres in London.