Website Header

Jump to navigation

Website Content

Jump to footer

Currently playing

THE COMMITMENTS

Coming soon to the Palace...

CENTREPOINT LAUGHING POINT

MICHAEL PALIN: TRAVELLING TO WORK

How to get there

Address

Palace Theatre
Shaftesbury Avenue
London
W1D 5AY

If you're driving into the West End to see a show, take advantage of Q-Park's Theatreland Parking Scheme saving 50% off off-street car parking charges for up to 24 hours. To qualify, simply present your Q-Park car park ticket for validation at our box office and the car park machine will automatically charge you half price. For details of locations and prices please visit Q-Park's website.

Parking

The nearest car parks are in Chinatown and Soho.

Public Transportation

Nearest underground station is Leicester Square (Northern and Piccadilly lines)

Bus Routes

29, 24, 176

View larger version of map

Theatre Facilities

x2 Cloakrooms (1 Stalls, 1 Dress Circle)

Air Cooling System (in the Auditorium only)

Infra-red system with headsets.
Induction loop at Box Office.
Headsets available in foyer.

Number of Bars:
1 x Stalls
1 x Dress Circle
1 x Grand Circle
1 x Balcony

Book online or call 0844 482 9676

Palace Theatre

The Palace Theatre was originally built by impresario Richard D'Oyly Carte as The Royal English Opera House in 1891, but was soon renamed as The Palace Theatre of Varieties. In 1912, it was the venue for the first Royal (and only true ‘command') Variety Performance.Throughout the 20th Century the theatre became a popular venue for musicals and revues including Gay Divorce in which Fred Astaire gave his last stage performance before going to Hollywood. The Palace hosted the original London productions of The Sound of Music and Jesus Christ Superstar which played for eight years. Other important musicals were Finian's Rainbow, King's Rhapsody, Cabaret, Song and Dance, The Woman in White, Spamalot and the Royal Shakespeare Company's Les Misérables (1985) which became the longest run in the building's history with 7602 performances before transferring to the Queen's Theatre in 2004.

Information

SEATING CAPACITY
Stalls - 531
Dress Circle - 275
Grand Circle - 228
Balcony - 317
Boxes - 16

NUMBER OF BARS
1 x Stalls
1 x Dress Circle
1 x Grand Circle
1 x Balcony

VIP Room - 1 x Royal Room (D/C level)

History

Despite opening with Sir Arthur Sullivan's grand opera Ivanhoe, D'Oyly Carte's enterprise soon failed and in 1892, following a season of French drama starring Sarah Bernhardt, he sold the theatre to a company led by Sir Augustus Harris from the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. It was then that the name changed to The Palace Theatre of Varieties.

Harris also struggled and in 1893 Charles ‘Father of the Halls' Morton took over as Managing Director and under his stewardship all of the greatest music hall stars appeared on bills including Marie Lloyd, LittleTich, George Robey and Vesta Tilley. The bioscope also made its first appearance, usually showing royal events and travelogues. Alfred Butt took the reins in 1904 and continued the variety success until 1921 when Charles B. Cochrane arrived. Stars to grace the stage under Butt's management included the young Buster Keaton (1909), Anna Pavlova (1910), Fanny Brice (1913), Nijinsky (1914) and Harry Lauder (1921). In 1912 the Palace was the venue for the first Royal (and only true ‘command') Variety Performance. Cochrane initially used the theatre successfully as a cinema. Rudolph Valentino's The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ran for 22 weeks (1922).

The theatre became a popular venue for the fashionable musicals and revues of the 1920s and 1930s including No No Nanette (1925), Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's The Girl Friend (1927), On Your Toes (1937), and Cole Porter's Gay Divorce (1933) in which Fred Astaire gave his last stage performance before going to Hollywood, and Anything Goes (1935).

The theatre experienced some severe bomb damage during the Second World War but, despite extended closure did manage to host a revival of Oscar Asche's Chu Chin Chow (1940 and 1941), Full Swing (1942) and Something in the Air (1943) starring Cicely Courtneidge and Jack Hulbert, and the pantomime Jack and Jill (1941) with Arthur Askey and Florence Desmond.

Post-war, the musical proliferated and Richard Tauber became Musical Director for Gay Rosalinda (1945) and sang in at least two Sunday charity concerts. During the run of Song of Norway (1946) the theatre was taken over by Tom Arnold and Emile Littler. In the years that followed, under their guidance, the theatre hosted all forms of theatrical and cinematic entertainment. Plays included Charley's Aunt (1947), John Gielgud leading the Shakespeare Memorial Company in King Lear and Much Ado About Nothing (1955), The Berliner Ensemble in Mother Courage and The Caucasian Chalk Circle (1956) and Laurence Olivier as Archie Rice in John Osborne's The Entertainer (1957). Revue and cabaret seasons featured Maurice Chevalier (1955), Victor Borge (1957), Frankie Vaughan (1958), Connie Francis and Max Miller's last ever London performance (1959). Pantomimes were headlined by David Nixon (1955) and George Formby (1957), whilst Harry Corbett also brought Sooty's Christmas Show (1959). Dance programmes included Antonio and his Spanish Ballet Company (1955 and 1956), Les Ballets Africains (1956), Les Ballets de Paris de Roland Petit (1956) and the Philippine Dance Company (1960). The dominant musicals were 1066 and All That and Finian's Rainbow (1947), King's Rhapsody, during the run of which Ivor Novello died (1949), Zip Goes a Million (1951), Where's Charley? starring Norman Wisdom (1958) and Rodgers and Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song (1960).

The Sound of Music (1961) ran for 2,385 performances and Judi Dench played Sally Bowles in the first British production of Cabaret (1968). Following a two year run of Danny La Rue at the Palace, the face of the West End changed when Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Jesus Christ Superstar (1972) took residence and stayed for eight years. Cameron Mackintosh revived Oklahoma! (1980) and Andrew Lloyd Webber combined his Tell Me on a Sunday song cycle with Don Black and Julian Lloyd Webber's Variations into a ‘concert for theatre' called Song and Dance (1982). During the run of this show Andrew Lloyd Webber bought the theatre. A revival of On Your Toes (1984) starred Tim Flavin and Natalia Makarova. Cameron Mackintosh returned to the building with the transfer of the Royal Shakespeare Company's Les Misérables (1985). This became the longest run in the building's history with 7,602 performances before transferring to the Queen's Theatre in 2004. The closure of Les Misérables allowed for a substantial internal refurbishment, to restore some of the building's original splendour, prior to the opening of Andrew Lloyd Webber's new musical The Woman in White (2004) produced by Sonia Friedman. This was followed by Whistle Down the Wind (2006) and the Broadway hit musical comedy Spamalot.

In April 2012 Andrew Lloyd Webber sold the Palace Theatre to Nimax Theatres. Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer owners of Nimax said of The Palace Theatre "We are honoured that Andrew Lloyd Webber has entrusted us with the guardianship of this iconic building with its extraordinary history and will cherish it as he does. We have longed to own a major musical house and it doesn't get much better than the Palace."

 

Website Footer

Back to top