The Victoria Palace Theatre opened in 1832. It was not always called the Victoria Palace Theatre however, and changed in name and size throughout the 19th Century. At the beginning of its life, the Victoria Palace Theatre was only a small concert Hall for the Royal Standard Hotel. A few years later, in the 1850’s, the Victoria Palace Theatre was then known as Moy’s Music Hall, and after extensive refurbishment financed by its then proprietor Alfred Brown, renamed in 1863 as the Royal Standard Music Hall. The Victoria Palace only took on a dimension of its own after the hotel was demolished to make space for Victoria Station, making the whole area of London a major transport centre. Grand Hotel structures were then built around it, and Victoria Street was born. The Victoria Palace remained known for a while as the Royal Standard Music Hall. It was finally demolished in 1910 to make place to the current theatre, the Victoria Palace Theatre, which opened its doors in 1911. Victoria Palace theatre tickets have therefore been selling for a hundred years!
The Victoria Palace continued its musical theatre tradition and saw many successes, with its first live BBC broadcast in 1939, “Me and My Girl” , where listeners could sing along The Lambeth Walk. Luckily the Victoria Palace Theatre was not damaged during the Second World War, although 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 the war and was sadly lost. However, in 2006, a replica of the original statue was restored in its place. One of the longest running musicals at the Victoria Palace Theatre is Black and White Minstrel Show, which was staged all throughout the 1960’s. But one of its main claims to fame comes from a production untitled The Little Foxes, which saw Elizabeth Taylor make her stage debut. Another long running hit was Buddy – the Buddy Holly Story. So successful was Buddy that the show later returned to other West End Theatres, including a long run at the Strand Theatre.
The theatre has been owned by Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen since 1991 and the Victoria Palace Theatre is now staging probably its biggest success to date, Billy Elliot the Musical. Billy Elliot opened in 2005, and has won itself rave reviews and Laurence Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical in 2005. The plot revolves around motherless Billy, who trades boxing gloves for ballet shoes. The story of his personal struggle and fulfillment are balanced against a counter-story of family and community strife caused by the UK miners' strike (1984–1985) in County Durham, in Northern England. Hall's screenplay was inspired in part by A. J. Cronin's novel, The Stars Look Down, to which the musical's opening song pays homage. This success led to productions in Australia, Broadway and elsewhere. The production Billy Elliot the Musical is still going strong at the Victoria Palace Theatre
, adding another layer of history. Victoria Palace theatre tickets are available from the theatre box office or from official agents
Please note: Opinions expressed on the londontheatredirect.com blog are those of the relevant contributors, not of London Theatre Direct Ltd, its owners or staff. London Theatre Direct Ltd is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by contributors.