Upstairs at the Gatehouse is an award-winning Off West End theatre in Highgate Village, North London. Since 1998, we’ve presented a varied programme of musicals, plays, opera, and more in our 122-seat Victorian auditorium.
A regular home for established fringe companies, we also focus heavily on supporting early-career artists, innovative revivals, and new writing.
Upstairs at the Gatehouse was established by John and Katie Plews of Ovation Theatres in 1998. Over their 25-year tenure, they quickly transformed the venue from a derelict Victorian music hall into an essential feature of the London theatre landscape.
In 2023, Annlouise Butt—the former theatre manager—and Isaac Bernier-Doyle (Chromolume Theatre) started as Artistic Directors.
Ovation Theatres continue to be involved in theatre production and the licensing of their original plays and musicals. You can find out more here.
As well as being home to London’s ‘top’ theatre (at 446ft above sea level), The Gatehouse pub has a long and interesting history of its own.
Probably the oldest of the inns in Highgate, its 19th century owners claimed that there had been a licensed building on the site since 1337.
The building evolved through various functions, including as a meeting house and courtroom. Byron, Cruikshank, and Dickens all made use of its services and the Highgate Literary and Scientific Institution’s inaugural meeting took place in the pub on January 16th 1839.
At the turn of the century, The Gatehouse was famous all over London for its shilling ordinaries—gigantic lunches which filled many a Victorian stomach. In 1905, the building was renovated in the mock Tudor style that remains today.
The auditorium that now houses the theatre was opened in 1895 as Highgate Hall, “a place suitable for balls, Cinderellas, and Concerts”. Its uses have included a Victorian Music Hall, a cinema, a Masonic Lodge, and a venue for amateur dramatics. In the 60s, a jazz and folk club featured, amongst others, the Crouch End All Stars and, on one famous occasion, Paul Simon.