Opening in 1891, the Palace Theatre was first imagined as the English Opera House. By 1892, its name was changed to the Palace Theatre of Varieties and it became a place to see some of the best variety shows, as well as screenings of news from around the world.
Experimental acts were brought in that proved popular – including bare-legged dancers, singing piano players and an interval orchestra that was an act in itself. Home to two ghosts, the Palace is supposedly haunted by an unknown ballerina and actor Ivor Novello, who likes to watch performances in the Dress Circle.
During its time as a cinema, the Palace Theatre screened the film In Birdland in 1907, which was the first wildlife film watched by an audience for a fee. It hosted the first ever Royal Variety Performance in 1912.
But by the 1920s, the Palace Theatre became a musicals specialist. It held the third-longest run of the 1920s, the 665-performance No No Nanette, and hosted the Marx Brothers in 1922 performing a Broadway medley. Judi Dench starred in the original London production of Cabaret at the Palace in 1968.
The Sound of Music ran for 2,385 performances, while Les Misérables ran from 1985 to 2004, before transferring to the Queen’s Theatre. It was at this point that the theatre was refurbished, with its paint stripped away to reveal glorious marble walls that were restored for its reopening. It’s since played host to larger-than-life shows Spamalot and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.