The London Palladium – The Greatest Theater in London

The London Palladium – The Greatest Theater in London

Where is the Palladium Located?

The London Palladium can be found just behind Oxford Street, a minute’s walk from Oxford Circus, and within easy reach of hotels, bars, restaurants and shops.

How old is the London Palladium?

Walter Gibbons, one of the early managers in the film business, had the Palladium constructed in 1910. The façade dates back to the 19th Century. It started life as a wooden building which included an . aviary, but was rebuilt as a circus venue complete with an aquatic display just a year later by Frederick Hengler. In its next incarnation it became a skating rink complete with real ice. When the rink venture failed, the Palladium undergoes another remodeling, this time by Frank Matcham, an architect with an impressive record in theater design whose works include the Coliseum, also in London. Many of the original features remain today in the 2286-seat London theater which gained Grade II* listing by English Heritage in September 1960.

What performances were shown there?

Throughout the 1930s The Palladium became known for variety performances, in particular the Royal Variety Performances, which are still staged there today. The ‘London’ part of its name was added in 1934. From 1945, Managing Director Val Parnell oversaw performances by big name American acts, including Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Ella Fitzgerald, the Andrews Sisters, Bob Hope , and Sammy Davis, Jr. Then, as the age of television dawned, the theater became the set for various top-rated television shows, such as Sunday Night at the London Palladium.

The first West End musical to be staged at the Palladium was Golden Boy, starring Sammy Davis, Jr. in 1968.

In 2000, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group acquired the Palladium, and brought The King and I over from Broadway, starring Elaine Paige and Jason Scott Lee. The box office took over £7 million before the show opened, and modern technology was introduced to the venue, making way for the special effects and sensational productions which were to follow. ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ ran for three years with a succession of well-known stars in the lead roles, and was the most successful show ever run in the theater’s history.

With the help of the newly designed technological stage systems, it became possible to stage one-off events during the run of established shows. Musical concerts and television broadcasts are still scheduled, and in 2007 and in 2010, the London Palladium was also the setting for the 2007 BAFTA awards,

A Century of History

The London Palladium was 100 years old on Boxing Day 2010. To celebrate, BBC2 showed a one-hour television special on New Year’s Eve.

What’s On Now?

After a reality show project, Over the Rainbow, found a leading lady, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new production of The Wizard of Oz opened on February 7, 2011. Currently still starring Danielle Hope as Dorothy and Michael Crawford as the Wizard, it is currently booking through January 2012.

Whether you’re resident or visiting London, a tourist or just looking for a night to remember, combining a London Musical with an evening in one of London’s most historic theatrical buildings, will ensure a magical experience.

I am a huge fan of London musical shows, and love to write reviews of the latest performances.

I have a keen interest in the story of the theaters themselves, as they are magnificent old buildings with a rich history..

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