Palace Theatre

109-113 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1V 8AY
Palace Theatre History and Timeline
The Palace Theatre opens as 'The Royal English Opera House'

The Palace Theatre opens as 'The Royal English Opera House'

1891-01-01

Commissioned by Richard D'Oyly Carte, the venue was designed by Thomas Edward Collcutt. The first production was Arthur Sullivans' 'Ivanhoe', which ran for 160 performances in a very elaborate production.

The theatre changes its name and becomes the Palace Theatre of Varieties

The theatre changes its name and becomes the Palace Theatre of Varieties

1892-01-01

The success as an opera house was short lived, and the theatre was renamed as it was converted into a Grand Music Hall. It began to host variety performances including the famous 'Palace Girls' that would appear to be nude throughout each show, and attract large crowds each night.

The theatre starts to show moving films

The theatre starts to show moving films

1897-01-01

To keep up with the changing face of entertainment, the Palace is used to screen filmed pictures, including news reels and war footage. This continued alongside the variety acts it had become famous for.  

The venue is renamed 'The Palace Theatre'

The venue is renamed 'The Palace Theatre'

1911-01-01

As the venue takes on a new name, Herman Finck became musical director, and his orchestra are used to make many recordings. The Palace Girls become extremely popular, performing dances and even song and dance numbers. The venue was used in 1912 for a Royal Command Performance. 

No No Nanette opens at the Palace

No No Nanette opens at the Palace

1925-03-11

Irving Caesar, Otto Harbach, and Vincent Youmans's musical comedy 'No, No, Nanette' opens at the Palace Theatre, where it went on to run for 665 performances. The original production starred Binnie Hale, Joseph Coyne and George Grossmith, Jr. and became a bigger hit in London than it did on Broadway. Based on the 1919 Broadway play 'My Lady Friends' the farce follows three couples in Atlantic City who find themselves in the middle of a blackmail scheme. Songs such as 'Peach on a Beach' and 'Too Many Rings Around Rosy' became contemporary classics.  

Cole Porter' Gay Divorce opens at the Palace 

Cole Porter' Gay Divorce opens at the Palace 

1933-11-02

Gay Divorce features music and lyrics by Cole Porter, with a book by Dwight Taylor. It ran at the Palace Theatre for 180 performances, transferring from Broadway. This was Fred Astaire's last Broadway show, and he reprised his role in London, along with Olive Blakeney as Gertrude Howard, Claud Allister as Teddy, Joan Gardner as Barbara Wray and Fred Hearne as Octavius Mann. The production was directed by Felix Edwardes, and featured the hit song 'Night and Day'.

Finian's Rainbow

Finian's Rainbow

1947-10-21

Despite the success of the Broadway production of E.Y. Harburg and Burton Lane's fantasy musical, which ran for over 700 performances, the London production only managed 53. The production was directed by James Gelb and featured Beryl Kaye, Patrick J. Kelly, Beryl Seton and Alan Gilbert.         

The Original London production of Flower Drum Song opens

The Original London production of Flower Drum Song opens

1960-03-24

The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical 'Flower Drum Song' ran for 464 performances at the Palace Theatre. Directed by Gene Kelly, the production featured choreography by Carol Haney. The original cast included Ida Shepley, George Minami Jr, Kevin Scott, George Pastell and Tim Herbert. The London production used fewer Asian performers, but reused much of the Broadway production's set, costume and orchestrations.

The London premiere of The Sound of Music opens

The London premiere of The Sound of Music opens

1961-05-18

Following on from their earlier London's successes at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical 'The Sound of Music' had its London premiere at the Palace Theatre. Running for over 5 years, and 2,385 performances, the musical based on the story of the Von Trapp Family Singers delighted London audiences. The production was directed by Jerome Whyte with staging by Joe Layton. The cast included Jean Bayless as Maria, Constance Shacklock as Mother Abbess, Roger Dann as Captain Von Trapp, and Eunice Gayson as Elsa Schareder.

Cabaret opens

Cabaret opens

1968-02-26

The original London production of Kander and Ebb's 'Cabaret' opened in 1968, running for 336 performances. Hal Prince directed the production which also featured choreography by Ronald Field. The role of Sally Bowles was played by Judi Dench, and she was joined by Barry Dennen as the Emcee, Kevin Colson as Clifford Bradshaw, Lila Kedrova as Fraulein Schneider and Pamela Strong as Fraulein Kost. The production was well received, and went on to be turned into an Oscar winning film starring Liza Minelli.

Jesus Christ Superstar opens

Jesus Christ Superstar opens

1972-08-09

Following success in the USA and in the UK charts, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's biblical epic burst onto the London stage in a spectacular production which ran for over 8 years. The show became the West End's longest running musical, with over 3,358 performances. The original production was directed by Jim Sharman with choreography by Rufus Collins. The role of Jesus was played by Paul Nicholas, with Dana Gillespie as Mary, Stephen Tate as Judas and John Parker as Pontius Pilate. Based on the last seven days of Jesus Christ's life, the show became an instant success and is now frequently revived around the world.

The London revival of Oklahoma! opens

The London revival of Oklahoma! opens

1980-09-17

The first London revival of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic ran for a year at the Palace Theatre. This new production was directed by James Hammerstein, and Gemze de Lappe restaged the original Agnes de Mille choreography, including the famous dream ballet. John Diedrich starred as Curly, alongside Rosamund Shelley as Laurey, Mark White as Will Parker, Alfred Molinda as Jud and Madge Ryan as Aunt Eller.

Andrew Lloyd Webber's Song and Dance opens

Andrew Lloyd Webber's Song and Dance opens

1982-04-07

Billed as 'a concert for the theatre', Song and Dance was quite literally a show of two halves. Marti Webb starred in the first half in a one woman musical (later expanded to become Tell Me On A Sunday) about looking for love in New York. Wayne Sleep then performed 'Variations' in the second act with dancers, in a piece that was originally written for Andrew's brother, the cellist Julian Lloyd Webber. The whole production was directed by John Caird, with choreography by Anthony Van Laast.

The original production of Les Miserables transfers from The Barbican

The original production of Les Miserables transfers from The Barbican

1985-12-04

After opening at the Barbican Theatre, the RSC's production of 'Les Miserables' defied critics and transferred to the Palace Theatre, where it remained for 19 years. It has since become the world's longest running musical, transferring to the Queen's Theatre in 2004 where it still continues to run to packed houses. The original production was directed by Trevor Nunn and John Caird, and featured Colm Wilkinson, Roger Allam, Patti LuPone, Alun Armstrong, Michael Ball and Frances Ruffelle.

Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Woman in White opens

Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Woman in White opens

2004-09-15

Following the transfer of 'Les Miserables' Andrew Lloyd Webber used the Palace Theatre to stage the suitably gothic world premiere of 'The Woman in White'. Based on Wilkie Collins's Victorian novel, this chamber musical was directed by Trevor Nunn and featured Maria Friedman, Jill Paice, Martin Crewes and Michael Crawford. Critics were not kind to the production, and cast illness and poor ticket sales meant it ran for just under 18 months.

Monty Python's Spamalot has it's London Premiere

Monty Python's Spamalot has it's London Premiere

2006-09-30

Following a successful run on Broadway, Monty Python's Spamalot arrived at the Palace Theatre in October 2006, where it ran for two and a half years. 'Lovingly ripped off' from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, this musical comedy was directed by Mike Nichols. The original London cast included Tim Curry, Christopher Sieber, Hannah Waddingham, David Birrell and Robert Hands. The production enjoyed good audiences and went on a successful UK tour, before reopening at the Playhouse Theatre in 2012.

Singin' in the Rain transfers from Chichester Festival Theatre

Singin' in the Rain transfers from Chichester Festival Theatre

2012-02-04

The Chichester Festival Theatre continued their run of West End successes by transferring their hit production of 'Singin' in the Rain' to the Palace Theatre. Running for just under two years, the show delighted West End audiences and featured a spectacular rain sequence. Directed by Jonathan Church and featuring choreography by Andrew Wright, the Original London cast featured Adam Cooper, Daniel Crossley, Scarlett Strallen and Katherine Kingsley.

The Commitments Musical has its world premiere

The Commitments Musical has its world premiere

2013-10-08

Roddy Doyle's The Commitments has its world premiere at the Palace Theatre. Directed by Jamie Lloyd, this brand new production is based on the successful novel and film of the same name.

Derren Brown Miracle opens

Derren Brown Miracle opens

2015-11-11

Master of psychological illusions, Derren Brown returns to the Palace theatre with his seventh live show Miracle. Directed by Andy Nyman and Andrew O’Connor it promises to be his most philosophical show to date.

Eddie Izzard: Force Majeure Reloaded opens

Eddie Izzard: Force Majeure Reloaded opens

2016-01-18

Eddie Izzard brings his new show Force Majeure: Reloaded to the Palace Theatre for a four week limited run. A revamp of a previous show, Izzard has including new jokes and anecdotes alongside his usual political jibes and historical deconstructions.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child opens

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child opens

2016-06-07

One of the highest profile plays to ever open in the West End, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child sold 175,000 tickets within 8 hours of going on sale. The show is a sequel to the seventh Harry Potter book, and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert opens

Priscilla Queen of the Desert opens

2009-03-14

Based on the cult film of the same name, the London production ran for almost two years, and transformed the marquee of the theatre with a giant platform heel. This energetic, camp musical was directed by Simon Philips and the original cast featured Jason Donovan, Tony Sheldon, Oliver Thornton and Zoe Birkett. The show transferred to Broadway and continued to be a hit around the UK.