We Met the Man Behind the Backstage Tours at Theatre Royal Drury Lane

This is David Kerby-Kendall...

He runs the Through the Stage Doors Tours at Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

When he’s not bestowing his incredible theatrical knowledge upon gawping tourists, he adapts David Walliams novels and works the spotlights for Phantom of the Opera! (Yes, we're jealous too).

David somehow found some free time around all of that to chat to us about being the man who brings you behind the scenes on Drury Lane...

Posted by Theatre Royal Drury Lane Tours on Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Tell us a little about the tours you run...

Twice a day, through Monday to Saturday, we act through the theatre’s 354 year history – the oldest continuously operating theatre in the world – playing the likes of David Garrick and Richard Sheridan amongst others.

From the royal corridors to under the stage, our visitors get a unique experience of theatrical gossip and historical anecdotes.

Who can go on the tours?

The tours are for anyone with an interest or love of theatre! We hopefully increase their knowledge of theatre history and allow them to see parts of the building that they would never normally see.

What’s your typical day like a Theatre Royal Drury Lane?

First, me and my co-worker get our costumes ready, along with various other paraphernalia (wigs, walking canes, hair-net and curlers – I’d like to point out that I don’t wear the last two items…) and we check with each other in case there are any changes to the route, such as special events taking place in the theatre that would affect the tour.

Then off I go to the foyer to meet our guests and begin the tour! Once the first tour is finished, we grab a coffee from the café across the round, have a general giggle and bitch about the state of the acting profession, and at 4pm, we return to the theatre to do the whole thing again!

Any cringe moments from one of your tours?

It must have been the time I compared the Puritans banning theatre and all forms of entertainment for eighteen years during the civil war and how boring it must have been, to continuously watching the Eurovision Song Contest for that duration of time...what I didn't know was that the Head of the Eurovision Song Contest was in the group that day!

What’s the weirdest theatre tradition at Theatre Royal Drury Lane?

Celebrated since 1795, Twelfth Night of every year, all those working at the theatre and members of the Drury Lane Society have a party after the show – in honor of Robert Baddeley, who bequeathed £100 to Drury Lane (quite a considerable sum back then) after his death on the one condition that this party would occur.

A cake has to be baked in the manner of the show that’s playing at the time and the theatre manager makes a punch to a secret recipe that only the managers know – and to this day is kept locked up!

What's been your favourite production at the venue?

Miss Saigon. It’s my favourite musical, and was the first thing I saw when I came down to London to go to drama school.

The sight of that helicopter descending from the fly tower left me breathless and in awe of everyone who works in theatre.

Finally, can we get a fun fact to impress our friends with?

Fun Fact! Covent Garden used to be Convent Garden as it was originally built on the nun’s graveyard – so we get occasionally visited by the ghost of some poor old nun!

Cheers David!

No worries!

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