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Victoria Palace Theatre

Victoria Palace Theatre

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Victoria Palace Theatre is a West End theatre
West End theatre
West End theatre is a popular term for mainstream professional theatre staged in the large theatres of London's 'Theatreland', the West End. Along with New York's Broadway theatre, West End theatre is usually considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English speaking...

 in Victoria Street, in the City of Westminster
City of Westminster
The City of Westminster is a London borough occupying much of the central area of London, England, including most of the West End. It is located to the west of and adjoining the ancient City of London, directly to the east of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and its southern boundary...

, opposite Victoria Station.

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
Music hall
Music Hall is a type of British theatrical entertainment which was popular between 1850 and 1960. The term can refer to:# A particular form of variety entertainment involving a mixture of popular song, comedy and speciality acts...

. 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
Frank Matcham
Frank Matcham was a famous English theatrical architect. He is buried in Highgate Cemetery.-Early career:...

, 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
Impresario
An impresario is a person who organizes and often finances concerts, plays or operas; analogous to a film producer in filmmaking, television production and an angel investor in business...

 Alfred Butt
Alfred Butt
Sir Alfred Butt, 1st Baronet was a British theatre entrepreneur, Conservative politician and racehorse owner and breeder...

, the Victoria Palace Theatre continued the musical theatre
Musical theatre
Musical theatre is a form of theatre combining songs, spoken dialogue, acting, and dance. The emotional content of the piece – humor, pathos, love, anger – as well as the story itself, is communicated through the words, music, movement and technical aspects of the entertainment as an...

 tradition by presenting mainly varieties
Variety show
A variety show, also known as variety arts or variety entertainment, is an entertainment made up of a variety of acts, especially musical performances and sketch comedy, and normally introduced by a compère or host. Other types of acts include magic, animal and circus acts, acrobatics, juggling...

, and under later managements, repertory
Repertory
Repertory or rep, also called stock in the United States, is a term used in Western theatre and opera.A repertory theatre can be a theatre in which a resident company presents works from a specified repertoire, usually in alternation or rotation...

 and revue
Revue
A revue is a type of multi-act popular theatrical entertainment that combines music, dance and sketches. The revue has its roots in 19th century American popular entertainment and melodrama but grew into a substantial cultural presence of its own during its golden years from 1916 to 1932...

s, . 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
Boy Scout
A Scout is a boy or a girl, usually 11 to 18 years of age, participating in the worldwide Scouting movement. Because of the large age and development span, many Scouting associations have split this age group into a junior and a senior section...

 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.


A return to revue brought new success. Me and My Girl
Me and My Girl
Me and My Girl is a musical with book and lyrics by Douglas Furber and L. Arthur Rose and music by Noel Gay. It takes place in the late 1930s in Hampshire, Mayfair, and Lambeth....

was a hit in its original production at the theatre, opening in 1937 starring Lupino Lane
Lupino Lane
Lupino Lane was an English actor and theatre manager, and a member of the famous Lupino family. Lane started out as a child performer, known as 'Little Nipper', and went on to appear in a wide range of theatrical, music hall and film performances...

. In 1939, songs from this show formed the first live broadcast of a performance by the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

, and listeners could sing along to The Lambeth Walk
The Lambeth Walk
"The Lambeth Walk" is a song from the 1937 musical Me and My Girl . The song takes its name from a local street Lambeth Walk once notable for its street market and working class culture in Lambeth, an area of London.The tune gave its name to a Cockney dance first made popular in 1937 by Lupino Lane...

. In early 1945, towards the end of the war in Europe, variety was presented under the stewardship of Lupino Lane
Lupino Lane
Lupino Lane was an English actor and theatre manager, and a member of the famous Lupino family. Lane started out as a child performer, known as 'Little Nipper', and went on to appear in a wide range of theatrical, music hall and film performances...

. Headlining the bill from his radio series was Will Hay
Will Hay
William Thomson "Will" Hay was an English comedian, actor, film director and amateur astronomer.-Early life:He was born in Stockton-on-Tees, in north east England, to William R...

, with his schoolboy retinue of Charles Hawtrey
Charles Hawtrey (film actor)
George Frederick Joffre Hartree , known as Charles Hawtrey, was an English comedy actor and musician.Beginning at a young age as a boy soprano, he made several records before moving on to the radio...

 and John Clark
John Clark (actor/director)
Ivan John Clark is an English actor, director, producer, and writer with British, American and Canadian citizenship. He is also known as the ex-husband of actress Lynn Redgrave, to whom he was married for 33 years.-Early career:...

, and among the "turns" was Stainless Stephen
Stainless Stephen
Arthur Clifford Baynes was an English teacher and comedian from the steel-making city of Sheffield, Yorkshire, who performed under the stage name Stainless Stephen....

, a comic acrobat comedian duo, and Victor Barna (then world champion table tennis
Table tennis
Table tennis, also known as ping-pong, is a sport in which two or four players hit a lightweight, hollow ball back and forth using table tennis rackets. The game takes place on a hard table divided by a net...

 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
Jack Hylton
Jack Hylton was a British band leader and impresario.He was born John Greenhalgh Hilton in the Great Lever area of Bolton, Lancashire, the son of George Hilton, a cotton yarn twister. His father was an amateur singer at the local Labour Club and Jack learned piano to accompany him on the stage...

 produced The Crazy Gang
The Crazy Gang
The Crazy Gang were a group of British entertainers, formed in the early 1930s. In the mature form the group's six men were Bud Flanagan, Chesney Allen, Jimmy Nervo, Teddy Knox, Charlie Naughton and Jimmy Gold...

series of comedy revues, with a glittering company of variety performers including Flanagan and Allen
Flanagan and Allen
Flanagan and Allen were a British singing and comedy double act popular during World War II. Its members were Bud Flanagan and Chesney Allen...

, Nervo and Knox
Nervo and Knox
Jimmy Nervo and Teddy Knox were part of the original Crazy Gang. They started the stage careers as an acrobatic dancing team. They used this ability in many of the earlier Crazy Gang shows. Among their many routines, a slow motion wrestling act was developed into a humorous show stopper...

, and Naughton and Gold
Naughton and Gold
Naughton and Gold were a comedy double act, consisting of Charlie Naughton and Jimmy Gold.They started in the British Music Halls in 1908, and were still together as part of The Crazy Gang in 1960, becoming the longest period of two British comedians being in the same act...

.

The long-running Black and White Minstrel Show played through the 1960s until 1972. In 1982, a production of The Little Foxes
The Little Foxes
The Little Foxes is a 1939 play by Lillian Hellman. Its title comes from Chapter 2, Verse 15 in the Song of Solomon in the King James version of the Bible, which reads, "Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes." Set in a small town in Alabama in...

, saw Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor
Dame Elizabeth Rosemond "Liz" Taylor, DBE was a British-American actress. From her early years as a child star with MGM, she became one of the great screen actresses of Hollywood's Golden Age...

 making her London stage debut. Another unusually long-running show at the theatre was Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story
Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story
Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story is a jukebox musical in two acts with a book written by Alan Janes, and music and lyrics by a variety of songwriters. Based on the life and career of early rock and roller Buddy Holly, the musical hews closer to Holly's actual life story than the 1978 film version...

, that played for 13 years in London, beginning in 1989 (transferring to the Strand Theatre
Novello Theatre
The Novello Theatre is a West End theatre on Aldwych, in the City of Westminster.-History:The theatre was built as one of a pair with the Aldwych Theatre on either side of the Waldorf Hotel, both being designed by W. G. R. Sprague. The theatre opened as the Waldorf Theatre on 22 May 1905, and was...

 in 1995). After this, the theatre presented mostly revivals of well-known musicals. In 2005, Billy Elliot the Musical
Billy Elliot the Musical
Billy Elliot the Musical is a musical based on the 2000 film Billy Elliot. The music is by Sir Elton John, and book and lyrics are by Lee Hall, who wrote the film's screenplay. The plot revolves around motherless Billy, who trades boxing gloves for ballet shoes...

opened, garnering rave reviews and Olivier awards. It is scheduled to continue playing until at least December 2012.

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
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, and was lost. In 2006, a replica of the original statue was restored in its place.

Notable productions


  • 1930: The Chelsea Follies
  • 1934: Young England
  • 1937: Me and My Girl
    Me and My Girl
    Me and My Girl is a musical with book and lyrics by Douglas Furber and L. Arthur Rose and music by Noel Gay. It takes place in the late 1930s in Hampshire, Mayfair, and Lambeth....

  • 1945: Variety
    Variety show
    A variety show, also known as variety arts or variety entertainment, is an entertainment made up of a variety of acts, especially musical performances and sketch comedy, and normally introduced by a compère or host. Other types of acts include magic, animal and circus acts, acrobatics, juggling...

  • 1947: The Crazy Gang
    The Crazy Gang
    The Crazy Gang were a group of British entertainers, formed in the early 1930s. In the mature form the group's six men were Bud Flanagan, Chesney Allen, Jimmy Nervo, Teddy Knox, Charlie Naughton and Jimmy Gold...

  • 1962: The Black and White Minstrel Show
    The Black and White Minstrel Show
    The Black and White Minstrel Show was a British light entertainment show that ran on BBC television from 1958-1978 and was a popular stage show. It was a weekly light entertainment and variety show presenting traditional American minstrel and Country songs, as well as show and music hall numbers,...

  • 1974: Carry On London
  • 1978: Annie
    Annie (musical)
    Annie is a Broadway musical based upon the popular Harold Gray comic strip Little Orphan Annie, with music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin, and the book by Thomas Meehan. The original Broadway production opened in 1977 and ran for nearly six years with a blonde Annie as the poster...

  • 1982: Windy City
  • 1982: The Little Foxes
    The Little Foxes
    The Little Foxes is a 1939 play by Lillian Hellman. Its title comes from Chapter 2, Verse 15 in the Song of Solomon in the King James version of the Bible, which reads, "Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes." Set in a small town in Alabama in...

  • 1986: Charlie Girl
    Charlie Girl
    Charlie Girl is a musical comedy which premiered in the West End of London at the Adelphi Theatre on December 15, 1965 and played for 2,202 performances, closing on March 27, 1971...

  • 1987: High Society
    High Society
    High Society is a musical film starring Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, and Frank Sinatra, and made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in VistaVision and Technicolor with music and lyrics by Cole Porter. The movie was directed by Charles Walters and produced by Sol C. Siegel from a screenplay by John Patrick, based...

  • 1989: Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story
    Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story
    Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story is a jukebox musical in two acts with a book written by Alan Janes, and music and lyrics by a variety of songwriters. Based on the life and career of early rock and roller Buddy Holly, the musical hews closer to Holly's actual life story than the 1978 film version...

  • 1995: Jolson
    Jolson
    Jolson is a musical with a book by Francis Essex and Rob Bettinson and a score composed of tunes by some of the all-time greatest songwriters of Tin Pan Alley....


Recent productions

  • Fame - The Musical
    Fame (musical)
    A stage musical based on the 1980 musical film Fame has been staged under two titles. The first, 'Fame – The Musical' conceived and developed by David De Silva, is a musical with a book by Jose Fernandez, music by Steve Margoshes and lyrics by Jacques Levy. The musical premiered in 1988 in Miami,...

    (3 October 2000 - 8 September 2001) by Jacques Levy and Steve Margoshes
  • Kiss Me, Kate
    Kiss Me, Kate
    Kiss Me, Kate is a musical with music and lyrics by Cole Porter. It is structured as a play within a play, where the interior play is a musical version of William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. The original production starred Alfred Drake, Patricia Morison, Lisa Kirk and Harold Lang.Kiss...

    (30 August 2001 - 24 August 2002)
  • Grease
    Grease (musical)
    Grease is a 1971 musical by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. The musical is named for the 1950s United States working-class youth subculture known as the greasers. The musical, set in 1959 at fictional Rydell High School , follows ten working-class teenagers as they navigate the complexities of love,...

    (2 October 2002 - 6 September 2003) starring Ben Richards
    Ben Richards
    Ben Richards is an English actor. He is best known for playing Bruno Milligan in series 4 and 5 of the British TV drama Footballers' Wives and in series 1 and 2 of its spin-off Footballers' Wives: Extra Time...

     and Lee Latchford-Evans
    Lee Latchford-Evans
    Lee Latchford-Evans is an English pop singer, actor and dancer, most famous for being a member of the British pop group Steps.-Biography:...

  • Tonight's the Night
    Tonight's The Night (2003 musical)
    Tonight's the Night is a "compilation musical" by comedian Ben Elton, based on the music of Rod Stewart. It opened in October 2003 at the Victoria Palace Theatre, and ran for just over a year...

    (7 November 2003 - 9 October 2004)
  • Billy Elliot the Musical
    Billy Elliot the Musical
    Billy Elliot the Musical is a musical based on the 2000 film Billy Elliot. The music is by Sir Elton John, and book and lyrics are by Lee Hall, who wrote the film's screenplay. The plot revolves around motherless Billy, who trades boxing gloves for ballet shoes...

    (11 May 2005 - present) by Lee Hall, starring Tim Healy
    Tim Healy (actor)
    Timothy Malcolm Healy is an English actor. He is best known for playing Dennis Patterson in the television series Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. He is married to the actress Denise Welch.-Career:...

     and Sally Dexter
    Sally Dexter
    Sally Julia Dexter , is an English actress of stage and screen.She was educated at Chiltern Edge School, King James's College at Henley-on-Thames, now The Henley College...

    .

External links