25 August 2023

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre History

Dating back to 1932, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre located in Queen Mary’s Gardens is a popular London landmark that hosts many wonderful shows including the dinosaur theatre spectacle, Dinosaur World Live. The theatre’s annual 18-week season is attended by over 140,000 people from all over the globe each year. So let’s find out more about this historic attraction.

About Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is one of the largest theatres in London with an impressive 1,240 seats. Unlike other theatres in the capital it’s not enclosed and instead offers an open air experience which is both beautiful and unique - especially as the theatre is situated amid the stunning surroundings of a Royal Park. Birds sing, trees blow in the wind and the actors perform on an outdoor stage. What could be better?

As a multi-award-winning venue, the theatre is passionate about producing top-quality shows for all to enjoy within a unique setting. It received the Highly Commended Award for London Theatre of the Year in The Stage Awards 2021 and in the last decade, Regent’s Park productions have won seven Olivier Awards, three Evening Standard Awards and six WhatsOnStage Awards. The theatre’s productions have also transferred to the West End and North America and have enjoyed tours of the UK.

Theatre Timeline

When the closure of a disastrous production left the Noel Coward theatre without a show, Robert Atkins and Sydney Carroll presented a black and white production of Twelfth Night. This was then transferred to a makeshift theatre in Regent’s Park in 1932, starting many decades of theatre in this location. In 1933, the first full season at the Royal Park began. This included a revival of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night from the previous year and the first of many productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The theatre put on a host of shows during the lead up to the Second World War and when fighting broke out, it was the only theatre to remain open alongside the Windmill Theatre. The theatre was forced to run matinee shows only due to blackouts plaguing the city. When the war finally ended, the theatre hosted a run of comedies in a bid to lift spirits and brighten the mood. When the New Shakespeare Company was established in 1962, Regent’s Park Open Air theatre continued to celebrate Shakespeare’s works.

The permanent amphitheatre-style auditorium which was seen today was only built in 1974. It cost £150,000 to resurrect with some productions temporarily moving to the Roundhouse. The theatre continued to welcome many famous stars to the stage including Judi Dench who appeared in plays such as Sweet Mister Shakespeare. Film actress Kate O’Mara also took to the stage in the 1981 production of Much Ado About Nothing. To celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the theatre, a special evening was presented with HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh in attendance.

In 2000, a £2 million investment helped to refurbish the auditorium and public areas of the theatre. The Robert Atkins Studio was also built. New seats were also installed in 2014 and in 2015, a digital archive was launched to preserve the theatre’s rich history. Today, the theatre is hosting critically acclaimed dinosaur show, Dinosaur World Live, complete with life-like puppetry and suitable for families.

Book your dinosaur world tickets today and enjoy a day at our Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre that you’ll remember forever.