Arts Theatre

Next Show: Six
First preview: 17th January 2019
Booking until: 5th September 2021 (resumes 24th August 2021)
Running time: Awaiting information

Address: 6-7 Great Newport St, Covent Garden, London WC2H 7JB


Air Conditioning: Yes

Current Owner: Consolidated Development

General booking

Visit the Arts Theatre website

Box Office: +44 (0) 20 7836 8463

Discounts, Day seats, Rush tickets & Lotteries

Awaiting information.

Box Office: +44 (0) 20 7836 8463

Stage Door: Contact via box office


Many of London’s theatres are accessed from below or above street level. If you need to avoid steps, it is advisable to contact the theatre directly by telephone or email as they will be able to advise you on which seats are most easily accessed. Many have specially adapted wheelchair spaces.

Theatres may be able to provide additional facilities for customers with a hearing or visual impairment and some shows may also offer specific, adapted performances. It’s best to check with the venue directly via one of the following methods:

Call box office +44 (0) 20 7836 8463


Society of London Theatre also offers useful information for visitors with a disability or specific access need.

Nearest Tube: Leicester Square

Buses: 14, 19, 24, 29, 38 and 176 are closest or 3, 6, 9, 11, 12, 23, 87, 88, 91, 139, 159 and 453 stop close by in Trafalgar Square

Check out Transport for London’s excellent TFL Journey Planner

Luxury: The Covent Garden Hotel, 10 Monmouth Street, London, WC2H 9HB

Mid: Page8 Hotel, 7 – 8 Saint Martin’s Place, London, WC2N 4JH

Budget: Hub by Premier Inn, 110 St Martins Lane, London WC2N 4BA

Situated on Great Newport Street, less than a stone’s throw from Leicester Square tube station, the Arts Theatre first opened on 20th April 1927 as a private members club. Converted at a cost of £18,500 (around £1.2 million today) from an existing building, the theatre’s members-only status allowed it to circumvent the censorship of the Lord Chamberlain, often staging experimental works by new writers which may otherwise never have seen the light of day in a West End theatre.

The theatre itself, designed by P. Morley Horder, opened with a review by Herbert Farieon and Beverley Nichols called ‘Picnic’ produced by Harold Scott. The early years of the theatre were financially challenging as a succession of small plays, however creative, failed to bring in enough money to cover the venue’s running costs. However, a few successes did enable the fledgling venue to survive including a production of Young Woodley staged in 1928 which later transferred to the Savoy Theatre.

In 1942 actor & theatrical manager Alec Clunes (father of Martin Clunes) and novelist, adventurer & entrepreneur Peter Elstob took over the running of the theatre and for ten years produced a diverse series of plays, winning a reputation as a ‘pocket national theatre’. In 1946, the pair raised £20,000 (around £800,000 today) and between them founded the Arts Theatre Company – an astonishing feat bearing in mind the harsh financial climate left by WW2.

One of Elstob and Clunes’ major successes was Maria Marten or The Murder in the Old Red Barn. Opening in 1952, the play told the story of Maria Marten, mistress to suffolk farmer & squire’s son, William Corder. In mid-May 1827, Corder persuaded Maria to meet him at the Red Barn, a local landmark. They were, he said, going to run away to Ipswich to be married. After both disappeared, Corder stayed in touch with Maria’s family by sending letters claiming that they were living happily on the Isle of Wight. However, suspicion grew when Corder invented excuses about why Maria did not write herself – claiming she had hurt her hand or her letters must have gone astray. A year after Maria’s disappearance, her stepmother, Ann, reported having dreams that her stepdaughter was calling to her in dreams, from a red barn. She persuaded Maria’s father to start digging and he soon uncovered the mostly skeletal remains of his daughter. Corder, who had by this time married someone else and was living in London, was arrested and found guilty of Maria’s murder. He was hanged for his crimes although rumours circulated that Ann, who was only a year older than her stepdaughter, had also been carrying on an affair with William Corder and when she learned of his subsequent marriage she exacted revenge by inventing her dreams about the whereabouts of Maria’s remains.

Another significant moment in the life of the Arts occurred in 1955 when Ronnie Barker made his West Debut in a Peter Hall-directed production of Mourning Becomes Electra. Barker quickly became an established West End performer, appearing in numerous plays including Listen to the Wind (also here at the Arts) before increasingly regular television appearances established him in one of British Television’s most iconic comedy pairings, The Two Ronnies.

In August 1955, still aged just 24, Hall directed the English language premiere of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot – a hugely important event not just for The Arts but also a significant turning point for modern theatre in the UK. The production, which opened on 3rd August 1955 and ran for 300 performances, transformed Hall’s career virtually overnight, attracting the attention of Tennessee Williams and Harold Pinter in the process. After a few highly successful years, including directing the English language premiere of The Waltz of the Toreadors by Jean Anouilh, Hall departed for Stratford where he founded the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The Arts has also been the venue for the works of several other notable playwrights. Tom Stoppard’s satirical play, Dirty Linen and New-Found-Land, enjoyed a run of four years at the theatre between 1976 and 1980.

After Hall’s departure, between April 1962 and January 1967 the Arts Theatre became known as the New Arts Theatre and then from 1967 to 1999 as a home for the Unicorn children’s theatre, under the direction of its founder, Caryl Jenner, who took over the lease. During this time, adult performances continued in the evenings, including Tom Stoppard’s satirical double-bill Dirty Linen and New-Found-Land which opened in June 1976 and ran for four years.

At the turn of the 21st century, the theatre’s lease was taken over by a consortium of UK and US producers for a five-year period, and in the year 2000 relaunched as a bona-fide West End theatre with the anniversary production of Julian Mitchell’s Another Country, directed by Stephen Henry. Other notable productions during this time included the Jonathan Harvey/Pet Shop Boys musical Closer To Heaven and successful transfers of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues and Jesus hopped the ‘A’ Train, directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The Arts Theatre’s varying fortunes continued into the first decade of the new century and after falling dark in 2005 the theatre faced the threat of demolition. It was eventually saved and given a major overhaul by the current owners, Consolidated Development (headed by property developer Laurence Kirschel who reportedly paid nearly £7 million for the site) finally re-opening on 19th October 2006.

In 2011 management of the Arts was taken over by JJ Goodman, led by Artistic Director Mig Kimpton with business manager Louis Hartshorn who, in 2014, took over from Kimpton as Executive director with business partner Brian Hook as producer. Expansion followed and the Arts now houses two rehearsal rooms (big enough for a full West End company to rehearse) and a studio theatre, Above The Arts, with a capacity of 60.

In 2016, Kirschel won an eight year battle with Westminster Council, with permission granted to build an entertainment hub on the site. Kirschel planned to create a multi-purpose venue with “the largest bar in Theatreland”, late night restaurant and a new auditorium with increased capacity of 400 seats which would be retractable to create a usable space after the main show. This project would have seen the existing auditorium demolished, with only the original façade and Grade II listed 17th century townhouse remaining. Plans also included a 66 room hotel with rooftop pool.

In 2017, the Arts announce that it would be seeking a new home, although until now plans have stalled and the original theatre remains intact. As the West End’s smallest commercial receiving house, the Arts Theatre has enjoyed a new lease of life with the ongoing success of hit musical Six, which has now transferred to Broadway and enjoys worldwide success. Although the threat of closures seems ever to hang over this 350 seat venue, its preparedness to showcase new work offers writers a much-needed chance of exposure in a West End which is often dominated by commercial long-running plays and musicals. Long live the Arts!

  • A Christmas Carol
  • The Wipers Times
  • Six
  • Knights of the Rose
  • Ruthless The Musical
  • All or Nothing – The Mod Musical
  • Six (Tryouts)
  • Mischief Movie Night
  • Guess How Much I Love You
  • The Toxic Avenger
  • Waiting for Godot
  • I Loved Lucy
  • Rotterdam
  • Judy!
  • The Wipers Times
  • Dirty Great Love Story
  • A Christmas Carol
  • Secret Santa
  • Murder Ballad
  • American Idiot
  • A View from Islington North
  • All That Fall
  • Not Moses
  • Beyond The Fence
  • Red Bastard
  • Ruby Wax: Sane New World
  • The Blues Brothers: Xmas Special
  • Annie Jr
  • American Idiot
  • Bad Jews
  • Ghost Stories
  • Ghost Stories
  • Seussical
  • The Golden Voice
  • Beautiful Thing
  • The Tailor Made Man
  • A Christmas Carol
  • Seussical
  • All That Fall
  • A Christmas Carol
  • Park Avenue Cat
  • Bette and Joan
  • David Wood’s Storytime
  • Woody Sez: The Life & Music of Woody Guthrie
  • Puss In Boots
  • A Guide to Sexual Misery
  • Lilies on the Land
  • Wet Weather Cover
  • Shirley Jones in Concert
  • Party
  • A Man of No Importance
  • Naked Boys Singing
  • Nunsense A-Men
  • Daisy Pulls It Off
  • A Christmas Carol (Musical adaptation)
  • Cymbeline (NYT)
  • Catwalk Confidential
  • Hotel Follies
  • Naked Boys Singing
  • F**king Men
  • Shout!
  • Saturday Night
  • Toyer
  • All Bob’s Women
  • Haunted
  • Tell Me… Lies
  • Zameen
  • The Fall and Rise of Lenny Smallman
  • Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf
  • Gertrude’s Secret
  • The Viewing Room
  • The British Ambassador’s Bellydancer
  • Count Arthur Strong: The Musical
  • Blair on Broadway
  • The Tempest
  • Reginald D Hunter: F**k You in the Age of Consequence
  • The Gruffalo’s Child
  • Alex
  • Bill Hicks: Slight Return
  • Anorak of Fire
  • The Complete Works of Willam Shakespeare (Abridged)
  • The Pool
  • Crunch!
  • Proof
  • Alvin Ungloved at Christmas
  • Pride & Prejudice & Niggas
  • 2Graves
  • Immodesty Blaize / Walter’s Burlesque
  • Tynan
  • Fully Committed
  • How to Lose Friends and Alienate People
  • Bombshells
  • Fuddy Meers
  • Hurricane
  • The Dice House
  • Happy Days
  • Shakespeare R&J
  • The Madness of George Dubya
  • Triple Espresso
  • Eden
  • Simply Barbra
  • Shakti – The Pillow Book
  • The Vagina Monologues
  • Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train
  • Gagarin Way
  • Berkoff’s Women
  • Dillie Keane – Back with You
  • Jackie Clune’s Bitchin’ Christmas
  • Noble and Silver
  • Richard Herring – Christ on a Bike
  • The Vagina Monologues
  • Closer to Heaven
  • Entertaining Mr Sloane
  • Another Country


We take care to provide accurate information. Records prior to internet age can be difficult to verify so we only list productions back as far as the year 2000, however we hold some records prior to this date offline. If you would like more information, or are aware of any errors, please contact us here. “One night only” productions and private theatre hires are not listed.

Arthur Lloyd’s Theatre Website offers an encyclopaedic insight into the history of the West End’s theatres.

Theatricalia is a database of past & future theatre productions.

Thisistheatre also offers interesting insights into the history of London’s theatres.

The Theatres Trust offers information and support for our nation’s theatres.

London Theatres by Michael Coveney & Peter Dazeley, is available from Waterstones and Amazon and provides stunning photography and commentary on London’s iconic theatres.