If you’re a fan of theater, there is no doubt that London, England, is a dream destination. From actors treading the boards of The Globe Theatre in the 16th century to modern-day masterpieces making their debut in the West End, it has a rich history in the dramatic arts that continues to thrive to this day. Each spring, St. Louisans have the unique opportunity to explore this cultural legacy thanks to The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, which organizes an annual trip to London. The beloved tradition will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2024.

“Thanks to its rich arts and culture, London has always been popular for regional theater trips—it’s the destination for people who want to experience theater across the pond,” The Rep’s managing director Danny Williams says. “Twenty-five years ago, The Rep saw that there was interest in St. Louis, so that’s how the trip started.” The trip is a weeklong excursion that provides access to between eight and 10 shows, as well as other opportunities such as visits to museums and post-show discussions with directors and performers. “Folks always have a great time, so it’s gotten bigger over the years,” Williams adds. “We’ve even had people who have moved away from St. Louis continue to join us each spring.”

Planning for the 2024 trip actually began during the 2023 visit to London. “We work with a tour company to organize everything, and at the end of each trip, I sit down with them to talk about what we liked and what we didn’t,” Williams explains. “Ultimately, we spend around a year making plans. It can be tricky because we don’t always know when shows are opening or closing. We come up with a framework, using the big productions that we know will be running during our visit, and closer to the fall, we start filling in the schedule with smaller shows that have been announced.” The London trip always also includes visits to prestigious theaters, such as The National, The Royal Court and Donmar Warehouse.

The Rep has offered St. Louisans once-in-a-lifetime experiences over the years. In 2012, the London trip overlapped with Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, allowing for visitors to experience the celebration. “In 2020, the Cardinals were scheduled to play some games in London, so we actually moved the trip to be able to catch one of them,” Williams notes. “Unfortunately, the pandemic meant the trip was canceled, but we’re always looking for opportunities like that.” The post-show discussions also offer unique chances to meet with theatrical luminaries. Recently, Tony Award-winning actor Simon Russell Beale participated in one, and in 1998, The Rep was able to meet with an on-the-rise Hugh Jackman—who was starring in Oklahoma! at The National Theatre.

Some of the experiences for this year’s trip have already been confirmed. For the first time, the tour will include additional day trips to the countryside, including a visit to the filming location for The Great British Baking Show. “The tent may not be set up, so we won’t be able to pop in and say hello to Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith, but it’s a really cool thing we have planned for 2024,” Williams says. “We’ve also booked tickets to a production of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night, which will star Patricia Clarkson and Brian Cox, who most people probably know for his role as Logan Roy on Succession.”

Space for the trip is limited, so Williams recommends interested parties reserve their spots soon. “It’s a really great trip, even if you’ve already been to London,” he notes. “You get to see some amazing shows that a lot of people never have access to. Plus, you get the opportunity to meet fellow supporters of The Rep and spend time with our leadership, including the new artistic director we will be hiring. It’s a wonderful peek behind the curtain at the magic of theater.”

For more information, visit repstl.org or email londontrip@repstl.org.

Pictured at top: Simon Russell Beale at a post-show discussion
Photo courtesy of The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis