Saturday, June 23, 2007

'Billy Elliot' Storms The Victoria Palace - The Venue

There has been three theatres on this site since 1832. The theatre that is now the Victoria Palace holds 1,550 seats and was built in 1910 at a cost of GBP12,000. Like many theatres in London built during the time, originally the Stalls, Dress Circle and Grand Circle each had their own box office and entrance denoting the current classes of its citizens. The theatre has been refurbished since to no longer reveal this out-moded class system distinction.

Unlike any other theatre in London, the auditorium boasts a sliding roof. Considering the often damp weather and that the theatre is air-conditioned, one wonders if this feature is ever used. In 2006, a replica of the original ballerina statue was reinstated to its original place on the dome above the theatre's fa├žade. The gold-leafed statue is now a fitting welcome for the patrons of the theatre's current tenant, "Billy Elliot".

Among the productions that have played here: "Buddy", the Buddy Holly musical; the 2001 revival of Cole Porter's "Kiss Me, Kate"; and "Tonight's the Night," a musical using the songs of Rod Stewart. The theatre is located on Victoria Street and the nearest tube stop is Victoria Station. Along with the Apollo Victoria Theatre, these two venues are the only two not within London's theatre district. Pictured below is the view along Victoria Street. Yup, the bus route says 'Victoria' and with the Victoria Place Shopping Centre nearby, it's unlikely Queen Victoria's name will ever be forgotten.

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