Kalpana Kalpana (Editor)

Theatre Royal, Nottingham

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Current use
Touring Venue

Charles J. Phipps

1,186 (4 levels)


+44 115 989 5555

Theatre Royal, Nottingham

Nottingham City Council

proscenium arch theatre

Years active
31 years (since refurbishment)

Theatre Square, Nottingham NG1 5ND, UK

Nottingham Royal Concert, Nottingham Playhouse, Motorpoint Arena Nottingham, Rock City, Curve


The Theatre Royal in Nottingham, England, is a venue in the heart of Nottingham City Centre and is owned by Nottingham City Council as part of a complex that also includes the city’s Royal Concert Hall. The Theatre Royal attracts major touring dramas, opera, ballet, West End musicals and an annual pantomime.



The Theatre Royal was completed in 1865, after six months of work and costing the clients, lace manufacturers John and William Lambert £15,000. The Classic façade and Corinthian columns designed by Charles J. Phipps are still a major Nottingham landmark.

The Theatre Royal opened on Monday, 25 September 1865 with Sheridan’s The School for Scandal.

Baroness Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel (1903) was first produced at the Theatre Royal by Fred Terry and Julia Neilson before being published as a novel. Although initially the play was met with little success, the novel is credited with influencing the mystery genre and arguably creating the ‘masked hero’ genre.

On October 6, 1952, the theatre made history with the world premiere of The Mousetrap (as part of a pre-West End tour). The play has gone on to be the longest-running theatrical production in the world.

In 1969 the city council bought the theatre and began restoring it at a cost of £4 million in the day, re-opening it in 1978. It was in need of restoration and had earned a reputation as one of the worst theatres for backstage conditions in the country.

It was officially reopened 6 June 1978 by Princess Anne who was “impressed and delighted” and said “…what an improvement on the old place. All you had there was the smell of gas.” Inside she met with “…City Council leader Coun. Jack Green…” and unveiled a plaque in the foyer.

Phipps’ Building – 1865

The elegant portico, with its six Corinthian columns of Ancaster stone; owe much to the desire of the Lamberts to build a prestigious theatre. Indeed, the orientation of the portico was designed to afford maximum effect; closing a new street from the Great Market Place, Market Street (originally named Theatre Street).

The original capacity was 2,200 comprised as follows:

Dress Circle - 250
Private Boxes - 50
Upper Boxes - 250
Pit - 850
Gallery - 800

Matcham’s remodelling – 1897

The noted theatrical architect Frank Matcham was engaged to build the new Empire Palace of Varieties next door. The Theatre Royal was closed between the end of April and September 1897 for remodelling. The works included building new dressing rooms at the rear to clear part of the site for the Empire. Matcham also refashioned the existing auditorium.

Frank Matcham pioneered the use of cantilevered steel in his designs, and patented his design. This allowed balconies to be built without the use of supporting pillars; which had characterised the work of the previous generation of theatre architects, such as Phipps. Without pillars, lowering the stage and increasing the rake of the tiers: sight lines were much improved and the audience capacity increased to around 3,000.

The building today

The theatre has four tiers of seating, the stalls, dress circle, upper circle and balcony with a total capacity of 1,186 seats. It has seven fully licensed bars including The Green Room Cafe Bar on the ground floor and The Restaurant on the dress circle level.

The theatre is served by the adjacent Royal Centre tram stop on the Nottingham Express Transit.


The theatre has an annual pantomime, usually starring local or national celebrities. Some of them include;

2016 Jack and the Beanstalk with the Chuckle Brothers.

2015 Aladdin with Christopher Biggins, Simon Webbe & Ben Nickless

2014 Snow White with Lesley Joseph

2013 Peter Pan with David Hasselhoff.

2012 Cinderella with John Partridge.

2011 Sleeping Beauty with Joe Pasquale.

2010 Aladdin with Stephen Mulhern and Gray O'Brien.

2009 Jack and the Beanstalk with Nigel Havers and Jenna-Louise Coleman.

2008 Cinderella with Brian Conley.

2007 Peter Pan with Debra Stephenson and John Challis.

2006 Aladdin with Basil Brush, Christopher Biggins and Claire Sweeney.

2005 Snow White with Claire Sweeney and Keavy Lynch.

2004 Dick Whittington with Kevin Kennedy and Colin Baker.

2003 Peter Pan with Joe Pasquale and Leslie Grantham.

2002 Cinderella with Bobby Davro and Alex Lovell.

2001 Aladdin with Cannon and Ball and Sooty.

2000 Jack and the Beanstalk with the Chuckle Brothers and Bonnie Langford.

1999 Snow White.

1998 Dick Whittington with Lesley Joseph, John Nettles and Hilary Minster.

1997 Cinderella with Bradley Walsh and Judy Cornwell.

1996 Peter Pan.

1993 Mother Goose with Frank Windsor and Maggie Moonie.

1991 Cinderella with Anne Charleston.

1985 Aladdin with The Patton Brothers, Jimmy Cricket and Barbara Windsor.

1981 Aladdin with Barbara Windsor, Keith Harris and Billy Dainty.

1975 Robin Hood with The Patton Brothers.

1974 Jack and the Beanstalk with Little and Large and Dorothy Dampier


Theatre Royal, Nottingham Wikipedia

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