This busy Victoria location once contained a small hotel that just so happened to obtain a performance licence in 1840, turning overnight into a music hall. It became such a sensation that ‘The Royal Standard Music Hall’ was enlarged in the 1880s to accommodate the surge in visitors, partially because of Victoria’s new reputation as a transport hotspot. After earning its reputation as a continuous music hall for nearly 70 years, it was knocked down to make way for the elaborate Victoria Palace Theatre.
This 1910 structure was erected with the price tag of £12,000 (that’s £1 million today) on a newly enlarged site. Its value was knocked up a few more pegs by the golden statue of Anna Pavlova that adorned the tip of the dome, and its tradition of variety and music hall performances continued all the way into the 1930s, when the musical Me and My Girl settled for a comfortable two year run.
Variety was still what the Victoria Palace Theatre championed through to the ‘60s, but it became most famous for staging the BBC Black and White Minstrel Show until 1972, an immensely popular TV show but, in retrospect, a national embarrassment that used blackface and portrayed stereotyped black characters performing American Country and Western music.
Its modern day biggest hits have been Buddy, which ran 1989-1995 before transferring to the Novello Theatre, and the current Elton John-composed sell-out sensation Billy Elliot The Musical, for which a refurbishment was carried out in its honour in 2005 before it moved in.