Opening on Boxing Day in 1910, the London Palladium is, arguably, the most iconic theatre in the world. It has seen performances from stars of stage and screen, and housed variety acts, musicals and spectacular pantomimes, as well as playing host to the most Royal Variety performances. The 1955 television hit Sunday Night at The London Palladium cemented the public’s affection for the venue, and made stars of Bruce Forsyth, Norman Vaughan and Jimmy Tarbuck who hosted the show. The format was revived in 2014 on ITV. Variety acts have been a constant presence at the theatre, including seasons from Ken Dodd and Bruce Forsyth.
From the early 1990s the theatre has housed longer runs of several large scale musical productions, starting with the Jason Donovan-led revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in 1991. Owned by the Really Useful Theatres Group from 2000, Andrew Lloyd Webber has produced musical revivals of The Sound of Music in 2006 and The Wizard of Oz in 2010, both of which cast their leading ladies through audience-voted talent shows broadcast on BBC1. Prior to the opening of the latter, the theatre underwent a major renovation, including the expansion of the box office, and easier access to the Stalls and Dress Circle.
In 2016, a series of concert bookings have played at the theatre, reinstating the notion of the London Palladium as a home for variety acts. After an absence of 29 years, pantomime returned to the Palladium in 2016, which has now become an annual Palladium Christmas tradition.
The auditorium has three levels – Stalls, Royal Circle and Upper Circle. In the Stalls, the view of the stage is slightly obscured by the overhang of the Royal Circle from Row S onwards, and the seats further back do suffer from a slightly lower ceiling. The seats are raked from Row D of the Stalls.
In the Royal Circle, the top of the stage is slightly obscured by the overhang of the Upper Circle in Row J onwards, though this is rarely an issue in terms of missing any stage action. The Royal Circle is raked and, whilst not offering the best leg room, generally has an excellent view from all seats.
In the Upper Circle, the safety bar along the front does restrict the view in the front two rows, and the legroom can cause problems for people. But the view from the central block of seats is still very good.