The Apollo Victoria Theatre, a 2,208 capacity, West End theatre located in the City of Westminster, was originally built in 1929 as a venue for cinema and variety theatre.
Built by Provincial Cinematograph Theatre architects William Edward Trent and Ernest Wainsley Lewis, the Apollo Victoria featured mainly concrete construction, two identical façades, and, along the exterior of the auditorium, horizontal banding. The theatre’s entrance uses chrome trimmings and an original Art Deco-style, nautical-themed interior featuring concealed lighting, scallop shell decorations and several columns. On June 28, 1972, the theatre was Grade II listed.
When the theatre first opened on Oct. 15, 1930, the super-cinema was called the New Victoria Cinema and played a George Arils film in Old English, which was based on a John Galsworthy stage play. The Apollo Victoria was equipped with a theatre organ, which was played opening night by Reginald Foort. Aside from the films shown, the theatre also offered variety shows to the public. Soon after the theatre’s opening, the management diminished the number of variety shows and began to specialise in film showings and the occasional performance by big bands.
In June 1939, the cinema became one of three sites in London used to present The Epsom Derby in live, experimental transmissions. The theatre closed temporarily, due to World War II, from September 1940 to May 1941, but did not suffer any serious damage and reopened quickly thereafter. In the 1950’s, plans were made to demolish the theatre, but these plans fell through the venue was used for a combination of live shows, films, and ballet. In November 1975, the cinema played its final show, a double showing of “Legend of the Werewolf,” starring Peter Cushing, and “Vampire Circus,” starring Adrienne Corri. The theatre was closed after this showing, and underwent extensive renovations. It reopened in 1981, renamed the Apollo Victoria Theatre, and specialised in presenting concerts, the first of which was performed by Shirley Bassey. Other musical acts shown during the early 1980’s include Bucks Fizz, Dean Martin and Liza Minelli. During this time, the theatre also began staging musical theatre performances.
Theatrical performances in the last two-and-a-half decades or so include “The Sound of Music,” which ran from Aug. 17, 1981, to Sept. 18, 1982; “Camelot,” running from November 1982 to February 1983; “Fiddler on the Roof,” which ran from June to October 1983; 1984’s “Starlight Express,” a show which required the theatre to undergo interior modification to allow roller-skating performers to skate through the audience, running for an extremely successful 18 years; Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Bombay Dreams” in 2002; “Saturday Night Fever,” shown in 2004, “Movin’ Out,” a musical based on the songs of Billy Joel, in 2006; and Stephen Schwartz’s “Wicked,” which is playing currently and which began its run Sept. 27, 2006. “Wicked,” has proven to be exceptionally successful for the theatre, as it pulled in £761,000, a record-breaking amount, during the first eight performances of the show and has, to date, grossed more than £50 million in London.
- Bars: Bars are available on both levels of the theatre.
- Toilets: Men’s and women’s toilets are available on the Stalls and Circle levels of the auditorium. A fully adapted toilet is available on the foyer level.
- Access: Access spaces are located in the Circle, Row F. Call the access line for booking.
- Air Conditioning: Yes, the theatre is fully air conditioned.
- Booster Seats: Booster cushions are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Cloakroom: A cloakroom is available at this venue.