Yesterday, before seeing the musical Made in Dagenham (which I won’t start praising now because I’ll go on and on and not get this review done!), I stopped off at the Theatre Cafe in Shaftesbury Avenue. It was a brief visit, granted as we got there about half an hour before closing time, but there is still plenty to say.
The exterior of the cafe is decorated with posters of just a few current musicals so is therefore recognisable and distinctive amongst the myriad of other cafes and shops along the avenue. Although small in size, the cafe is lovely and really cosy. I had a hot chocolate which came in a paper cup advertising my favourite musical WICKED, so as you can probably imagine I was already in my element. It is also a very nice touch that they have a question on the counter, giving customers the opportunity to win a free poster. Currently, they are giving away Made in Dagenham posters to winners and I managed to win one myself, which was very apt considering we were going to see the show that evening.
For anyone wanting to book last-minute theatre tickets, there are iPads on each table logged onto the London Theatre website, allowing you to watch show trailers and book tickets, as well as a desk at the back selling half price and discounted tickets. I have taken note for when I finish school in June!
The cafe is decorated from floor to ceiling (no, honestly!) with theatre memorabilia from many different shows including Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera and WICKED to name a few. Some of the items include Elphaba’s broomstick from the original London production of WICKED, the Phantom’s mask as worn by Earl Carpenter and the French flag used in Les Mis. Amongst these were various posters, many from original productions of musicals such as Miss Saigon, which credited Lea Salonga, the original actress to play Kim. Even the toilets were decorated with these posters as well as having lights around the mirror which made it feel like a theatre dressing room. The tables were glass and you could see the theatre posters, leaflets and CDs on them which looked really good and effective, plus each table was different. I must not forget to mention that they have musical cast recordings playing. Whilst I was there, it was Miss Saigon, which has some really lovely music.
Overall, I would highly recommend this cafe to anyone who loves musical theatre and cakes. The atmosphere is wonderful and really keeps you in high spirits. It is nice to be able to go somewhere pre-show or after-show (if you go to a matinee) that gets you into ‘stagey-mode’ or keeps up the high spirits you get from a show. Next time (and there most certainly will be a next time!), I hope to be able to spend a bit longer there and have an even more fantastic experience!