Victoria Palace Theatre
The Victoria Palace Theatre opened on 6 Nov. 1911, with a design by Frank Matcham. Matcham designed a sliding roof over the auditorium to help keep the temperature of the auditorium regulated at performances during the summer months.
The theatre is built on the site of an old Music Hall. Originating in 1832 as a small concert hall above the Royal Standard Hotel’s stables, this building was expanded over the years and became known as the Royal Standard Music Hall in 1863. This building was demolished in 1886 and rebuilt as a larger venue alongside the larger hotels and buildings being built in the area for the expansion of Victoria station and the railway lines.
This building was eventually demolished in 1910 and made way for the Victoria Palace Theatre that stands today. The commissioner, Alfred Butt, had bought more of the surrounding land and thus was able to build an even larger venue on the site. The building was heavily praised on completion for its elaborate foyer, the installation of lifts for patrons and the advanced heating system used in tandem with the sliding roof. Many of these features are still present today.
The Victoria Palace Theatre kept the musical tradition of the Royal Standard Music Hall by presenting variety acts and revues, and straight plays that were performed here never really took off except for one – famously, in 1934, a production of Rev. Walter Reynolds’ Young England played here and was so badly reviewed that it enjoyed a cult success, playing 278 performances to full houses. Lupino Lane starred in a production of Me and My Girl in 1937 which enjoyed success and led to Lane managing the theatre through the end of World War II, starting in early 1945 with a series of variety acts. Jack Hylton was the manager from 1947 to 1962, and he continued the tradition of presenting variety acts and comedy revues.
In the 1980s, the theatre began its association with musical theatre. Proving to be a long-runner for the venue, Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story opened in 1989 and later transferred to the Novello Theatre in 1995. It was during this run that the theatre was bought by Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen, who spent a large sum of money on extending the theatre’s foyer, upgrading the facilities and adding a new bar for patrons. He was also responsible for replacing a figure of the ballerina Anna Pavlova on the dome of the building – the original had been removed during World War II.
Successful productions of Jolson, starring Brian Conley, Annie and Kiss Me, Kate have resided in the theatre since, but it was the 2005 arrival of a very British musical that saw the theatre packed for 11 years – Billy Elliot The Musical. The show opened to rave reviews in May 2005, winning four Olivier Awards, and went on to win 10 Tony Awards in its Broadway transfer in 2009.
It was announced in May 2014 that Sir Cameron Mackintosh would be buying the theatre through his company Delfont Mackintosh Theatres. Mackintosh closed the theatre in 2016 for an extensive renovation, and the theatre opened a year later with Hamilton.
Victoria Palace Theatre Seating Information
The auditorium has three levels - Stalls, Dress Circle and Grand Circle.