“ Rosebery Avenue, EC1R 4TN. (Angel tube). Long history (beginning in 1683), but became a ballet/opera venue in 1934. A £48 million refurbishment was completed in 1998. 1500 seats. „
A fantastic venue for a wide range of contemporary physical shows.
I love Sadlers Wells, it is one of my favourite London venues. Especially the Peacock Theatre. They always have a nice variety of contemporary physical shows - for instance you can catch some nice ballet, some street dancing, some circus.
They have put on some of the greatest contemporary circus's there, the famous Cirkus Cirkor (with the amazing Jay Gilligan!) to Les Sept Doigts De Le Main (7 Fingers of the Hand) having a premier of their show Psy!
For the actual theatres... I have only been to the foyer areas of their main site by Angel. But the Peacock theatre is great. It is a small venue, but friendly. There are bars on each level meaning the queue in the interval is not too long (nor the toilet queue thankfully!).
A downside to the theatre is it's quite hard to find the first time you venture there. It is near Holborn - but still requires a walk from the tube or bus. It is tucked on a corner and not labelled to well. But sometimes hidden treasure is more rewarding.
I went to Sadler's Wells for the first time this weekend to see Matthew Bourne's production of Edward Scissorhand's - the ballet.
We struggled to locate the theatre and had to check a map on the way but this was more due to our ineptitude to check the location than it being difficult to find. In reality the theatre is about a ten minute walk from Angel Tube (that's in heels - for a normal person read 10 as 5).
We arrived at the theatre which had a fantastic atmosphere in the entrance with people milling around drinking and chatting. Even though it was full there was no sense of being over crowded. The theatre is modern, bright and spacious with a long stylish looking bar across one side and a box office counter where you can collect your tickets. We decided to check in our coats with some trepidation but there was no queue whatsoever and we were back in the bar with some cold champagne about ten minutes later.
We were extremely lucky to get seats for about £8 each in the second circle, which were certainly not the best seats in the house but not at all bad with a very good (if far away) view of the proceedings. The ballet was wonderful and we thoroughly enjoyed the performance (but I think that's another review). My one criticism of the theatre would be that they do not allow drinks in the auditorium, which is unlike most places who allow you in with a plastic glass. This meant that our bottle of champagne which had happily been chilling behind the bar ready for the interval, had to be nearly downed in attempt not to waste it. Most people appeared to be in the same situation as 15 minutes was barely time to drink a glass of wine let alone a bottle. It was disappointing.
After the performance we expected long queues for the toilets, the cloakroom and leaving the building but there were none. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and other than the drinks issue, one of the most pleasant venues I have ever been to. Highly recommended.
I went to Sadlers Wells Theatre for the first time last friday, to see Opera North's production of Sweeney Todd, and was very pleasantly surprised with both the venue and the even more so, the production! The venue is situated in Islington in London, the nearest tube being Angel, which can be accessed via the Northern Line and the Victoria line as well as frequent bus links from central london.It is very close to Kings Cross and Euston main line train stations too. From the tube station it is literally a few minutes walk. Upon exiting from Angel, there is only one exit, the theatre is reached by turning left and then carrying straight on past the traffic lights for a few minutes. You can actually see the top of the building as you approach it. Unlike many theatres, the foyer is spacious and welcoming, so even though hundreds of people were congregating in the foyer when i went, it was still uncrowded, which was lovely. I work at the RSC in Stratford, which for any of you who have been will know, is quite the opposite, therefore this was bliss! On Friday, and i imagine, normally, there were lots of ushers floating around to assist, were their assistance required, and they were friendly and welcoming. This again, i found charming. As an aside, i think these people were just the kind of person i would employ, were i ever to be employed in such a capacity. The ushers and box office staff were clearly there as a result of an interest in the arts, which is, to my mind, a crucial pre-requisite for working in the arts. The price of tickets obviously depends on the production you attend, but for Sweeney Todd, the prices varied from £5 upto £34, and as a student, there were two comcessionary prices available to me. Considering the theatre was very full, i was pleasantly surprised to find the box office still willing to let me purchase such a ticket. Many venues in London do not take such an attitude, so again i found this sta
nce very pleasing, and not just from the perspective that it saved me money! Another delightful aspect of the building and its operations, was the way in which latecomers were handled. My friend was stuck on the tube, so i waited, and the ushers could not be more friendly and accommodating, informing me of the time we could take our seats, and without any of the oft-experienced vibes emitted at other venues i frequent. The theatre itself has recently undergone an extensive re-build, but it is well-worth it. The seats are comfortable, the acoustics superb, and a well-designed auditorium, which slopes down towards the stage. There is a stalls, two circles, upper and lower and a balcony. I visited all these areas, in the interest of seeing what the view would be like, and was impressed to find that there seemed to be no bad seats, view-wise. This is a theatre that has been carefully designed, taking into account most of the essential characteristics that create a good performance venue. Sadlers Wells is mainly a dance and opera venue, and the production i saw was a musical-cum-opera, and it worked in this space superbly. What a sheer joy, and i mean that sincerely, to find a venue that is well-designed, well-staffed, well-run, and well attended, within easy distance of central london. If ever the chance arises to visit this space, i would highly recommend that you do.
Most famous as a ballet venue, this theatre also hosts a broad range of theatre, and musical events (recently these have included : Japanese Kabuki, Cirque Éloize, various tribal drum groups, a musical of The Twits etc). However, I have only seen ballets here, from several touring companies. This is my favourite venue to see dance acts, because the venue doesn't overshadow the perofrmance, but does give an appropriate atmosphere and sence of occasion. Located near Angel Islington they are a little out of the centre of London, but only a short, well sign-posted walk from the tube (Angel, on the Northern Line), or a short bus ride from Oxford Street. Some bus routes even give you free travel if you have a ticket for the show you are traveling to and from. They also offer a special express bus service to (I think) Victoria and Waterloo at the end of performances to help you get home quickly. There are lots of eateries nearby if you wanted to make an evening of your trip as well. Booking online (www.sadlers-wells.com) is occasionally frustrating (it's won't let you book seats with a restricted view, but doesn't tell you *why* it won't accept the booking) but their telephone staff are very helpful, and adept at finding the best value seats for hard pressed student types. The website is, however, a good source of information, along with their occasional mail shots. Speaking of cheap seats, the very cheapest are amazingly good value - Stalls stools are normally only £8 or £7, and provided you don't have a back problem (the seats are literally stools, and you'll be twisting your neck to one side for the whole show), have a surprisingly good view. Thanks to the staff's consideration with regard to upgrading folks from the cheap seats when there are unsold seats elsewhere, I can also say that the more expensive seats are very comfy, and give an excellent view. This is a very modern seeming theatre (no red and guilt
cherubs here!) designed with acoustics and the demands of a modern audience in mind. In terms of other facilities, the bars are only as expensive as you might expect a London theatre to be, and the cloakroom, while busy, is affordable and efficient. Programmes etc are the responsibility of the various touring companies, and quality and price vary widely. The theatre shop sells all sorts of tie-ins to the performances, from music and video recordings to t-shirts mugs, and novelty packs of garlic. (The later for the Northern Ballet theatre's Draculla) The split level halls and bars are used as an opportunity to exhibit a few pieces of contemporary art - last time I was there it was some very attractive video installations - which all adds to the cultured yet friendly ambience. Even the strings of fairy lights in the trees around the entrance to the theatre help to et this apart from other, less magical, venues. But my favourite little finishing touch of any venue, are the Spirits of Saddlers Well. A small plaque telling the story of the original spring that the building is said to stand on announces a small glass circle into the ground, tucked away in a corner. Drop a coin into the well, and watch what happens - I won't spoil the surprise, only assure you that I always make sure I have a handful of change when I'm at the theatre!