Victoria Palace Theatre


Victoria Palace Theatre

Infobox Theatre
name = Victoria Palace Theatre


caption = "Billy Elliot the Musical", playing at the Victoria Palace, 2004–present
address = Victoria Street
city = Westminster, London
country =
designation = Grade II listed
latitude = 51.496778
longitude = -0.14325
architect = Frank Matcham
owner = Stephen Waley-Cohen Theatres
capacity = 1,550 on 3 levels
type = West End theatre
opened = 1911
yearsactive =
rebuilt =
closed =
othernames = 1832 Moy's Music Hall
1863 Royal Standard Music Hall
production = Billy Elliot the Musical
currentuse =
website = www.victoriapalacetheatre.co.uk

The Victoria Palace Theatre is a West End theatre in Victoria Street, in the City of Westminster, opposite Victoria Station.

History

Origins

The theatre began life as a small concert room above the stables of the Royal Standard Hotel, a small hotel and tavern built in 1832 at what was then 522 Stockbridge Terrace, on the site of the present theatre – not, as sometimes stated, on land where the train station now stands. The proprietor, John Moy, enlarged the building, and by 1850 it became known as Moy's Music Hall. Alfred Brown took it over in 1863, refurbished it, and renamed it the Royal Standard Music Hall.

The hotel was demolished in 1886, by which time the main line terminus, Victoria Station and its new Grosvenor Hotel, had transformed the area into a major transport hub. The railways were at this time building grand hotel structures at their termini, and Victoria was one of the first. Added to this was the integration of the electric underground system and the building of Victoria Street. The owner of the music hall, Thomas Dickey, had it rebuilt along more ambitious lines in 1886 by Richard Wake, retaining the name Royal Standard Music Hall.

Matcham's theatre

The Royal Standard, was demolished in 1910, and in its place was built, at a cost of ₤12,000, the current theatre, The Victoria Palace. It was designed by prolific theatre architect Frank Matcham, and opened November 6, 1911. The original design featured a sliding roof that helped cool the auditorium during intervals in the summer months.

Under impresario Alfred Butt, the Victoria Palace Theatre continued the musical theatre tradition by presenting mainly varieties, and under later managements, repertory and revues, [ [http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/VictoriaPalaceTheatre.htm "Victoria Palace Theatre"] (Arthur Lloyd theatre history) accessed 12 September 2008] . Perhaps because of its music hall linkage, the plays were not always taken seriously. In 1934, the theatre presented "Young England", a patriotic play written by the Rev. Walter Reynolds, then 83. It received such amusingly bad reviews that it became a cult hit and played to full houses for 278 performances before transferring to two other West End theatres.

"Intended by its author as a serious work celebrating the triumph of good over evil and the virtues of the Boy Scout Movement, it was received as an uproarious comedy. Before long, audiences had learned the key lines and were joining in at all the choicest moments. The scoutmistress rarely said the line 'I must go and attend to my girls' water' without at least fifty voices in good-humoured support." [ [http://www.anecdotage.com/index.php?aid=5994 Anecdotes] accessed 24 Aug 2007]

A return to revue brought new success. "Me and My Girl" was a hit in its original production at the theatre, opening in 1937 starring Lupino Lane. In 1939, songs from this show formed the first live broadcast of a performance by the BBC, and listeners could sing along to "The Lambeth Walk" [ [http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/article625736.ece "Still doing the Lambeth Walk" The Times, 4 September 2006] accessed 24 Aug 2007] . In early 1945, towards the end of the war in Europe, variety was presented under the stewardship of Lupino Lane. Headlining the bill from his radio series was Will Hay, with his schoolboy retinue of Charles Hawtrey and John Clark, and among the "turns" was Stainless Stephen, a comic acrobat comedian duo, and Victor Barna (then world champion table tennis player) giving an exhibition, who would invite audience members up on to the stage to see if they could beat him in ten points. From 1947 through 1962, Jack Hylton produced "The Crazy Gang" series of comedy revues, with a glittering company of variety performers including Flanagan and Allen, Nervo and Knox, and Naughton and Gold.

The long-running "Black and White Minstrel Show" played through the 1960s until 1972. In 1982, a production of "The Little Foxes", saw Elizabeth Taylor making her London stage debut. Another unusually long-running show at the theatre was "Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story", that played for 13 years in London, beginning in 1989 (transferring to the Strand Theatre in 1995).

The theatre has been owned by Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen since 1991. At the opening in 1911, a gilded statue of ballerina Anna Pavlova had been installed above the cupola of the theatre. This was taken down for its safety during World War II, and was lost. In 2006, a replica of the original statue was restored in its place [ [http://www.victoriapalacetheatre.co.uk/History_London_Victoria_Palace_Theatre.html Victoria Palace history] accessed 24 Aug 2007] .

Notable productions

*1930: "The Chelsea Follies"
*1934: "Young England"
*1937: "Me and My Girl"
*1945: "Variety"
*1947: "The Crazy Gang"
*1962: "The Black and White Minstrel Show"
*1974: "Carry On London"
*1978: "Annie"
*1982: "Windy City"
*1982: "The Little Foxes"
*1986: "Charlie Girl"
*1987: "High Society"
*1989: "Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story"

Recent productions

* "Jolson" (26 October 1995 - 22 March 1997) by Rob Bettinson and Francis Essex
* "Always" (10 June 1997 - 26 June 2007) by William May and Jason Sprague
* "Fame - The Musical" (11 November 1997 - 17 January 1998)
* "Girls' Night Out" (2 March 1998 - 2 May 1998) by Dave Simpson
* "Sweet Charity" (19 May 1998 - 15 August 1998) by Cy Coleman, Bob Fosse and Neil Simon, starring Bonnie Langford
* "Annie" (30 September 1998 - 28 February 1999) by Charles Strouse, Martin Charnin and Thomas Meehan, starring Lily Savage
* "The Colour of Justice: The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry" (3 March 1999 - 13 March 1999) by Richard Norton-Taylor
* "The New Rocky Horror Show" (14 April 1999 - 5 June 1999) by Richard O'Brien
* "The Pajama Game" (4 October 1999 - 19 December 1999) by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross
* "La Cava" (8 June 2000 - 22 July 2000) by Laurence O'Keefe, John Clafin and Dana Broccoli
* "Fame - The Musical" (3 October 2000 - 8 September 2001) by Jacques Levy and Steve Margoshes
* "Kiss Me, Kate" (30 August 2001 - 24 August 2002) by Cole Porter
* "Grease" (2 October 2002 - 6 September 2003) by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, starring Ben Richards and Lee Latchford-Evans
* "Tonight's the Night" (7 November 2003 - 9 October 2004) by Ben Elton and Rod Stewart
* "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (17 December 2004 - 23 January 2005) by Tudor Davies, Paul Elliott and Carole Todd, starring Lily Savage
* "Billy Elliot the Musical" (11 May 2005 - ) by Lee Hall, starring Tim Healy and Sally Dexter

References

* Earl, John and Sell, Michael "Theatres Trust Guide to British Theatres 1750-1950", pp. 145 (Theatres Trust, 2000) ISBN 0-7136-5688-3
* Ronald Bergan: "The Great Theatres of London. An Illustrated Companion" (Prion: London, 1990) (ISBN 1-85375-057-3).
* Patricia Dee Berry: "Theatrical London (Britain in Old Photographs" series) (Alan Sutton: Stroud, Gloucestershire, 1995) (ISBN 0-7509-0942-0).
* Ray Mander and Joe Mitchenson: 'Theatres of London', (Rupert Hart-Davis 1961, New English Library 1975)

External links

* [http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/VictoriaPalaceTheatre.htm Theatre history]
* [http://www.london-discount-theatre.com/show_58_Billy+Elliot+Theatre+Tickets Profile of the theatre]
* [http://www.anecdotage.com/index.php?aid=5994 Information about "Young England"]

Nearby Tube stations

* Victoria

External links

* [http://betmbroadway.21.forumer.com/ Billy Elliot the Musical fansite]


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