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The Victoria Palace Theatre, 126 Victoria Street, London

Formerly - The Royal Standard Hotel / Moy's Music Hall / Royal Standard Concert Rooms / Royal Standard Music Hall.

The Victoria Palace Theatre during the run of the hit stage musical 'Billy Elliot' in 2006 - Photo M.L.

Above - The Victoria Palace Theatre during the run of the hit stage musical 'Billy Elliot' in 2006 - Photo M.L.

 

 

See a Seating Plan for this Theatre with non commercial and independent opinions on the best seats to book - From Seatplan.co.ukSee London's West End TheatresSee Theatreland MapsThe Victoria Palace Theatre was designed by the renowned Theatre Architect Frank Matcham, and built by Henry Lovatt Ltd on the site of the former Royal Standard Music Hall at a cost of £12,000. The Theatre opened on the 6th November 1911 and was the last great variety house to be built in the West End. Still standing over a hundred years later the Victoria Palace Theatre continues to be a successful home to large scale musicals and is still one of Matcham's great surviving Theatres.

Information on the earlier building on the site, The Royal Standard Music Hall, follows, and then the Victoria Palace itself is detailed further down on this page.

 

The Royal Standard Music Hall

Formerly - The Royal Standard Hotel / Moy's Music Hall / Royal Standard Concert Rooms

The Royal Standard Music Hall - Courtesy John Culme of Footlight Notes

Above - The Royal Standard Music Hall which originally stood on the site of the Victoria Palace Theatre. - Courtesy John Culme of Footlight Notes

Programme for the Royal Standard Music Hall - Courtesy Peter Charlton. Originally on this site there was a small hotel / tavern in Stockdale Terrace, Victoria called the Royal Standard Hotel which was built in 1832. Here 'Harmonic Meetings' were held in a room above the stables, but by 1840 the proprietor, John Moy, had obtained a new Licence which allowed for singing and dancing in the premises.

Following the success of this entertainment Moy enlarged the building and began putting on Music Hall Bills. The building soon became known as Moy's Music Hall, but in 1854 it was renamed The Royal Standard Concert Rooms.

Right - An early Programme for the Royal Standard Music Hall - Courtesy Peter Charlton.

Programme for the Royal Standard Music Hall May 2nd 1904 - Click to see the entire programme.Alfred Brown, who took over the premises in 1863, refurbished it and opened the, now renamed, Royal Standard Music Hall on December 26th of that year. The audience were seated at tables and the stage was actually part of an adjoining room.

Left - A Programme for the Royal Standard Music Hall, May 2nd 1904 - Click to see the entire programme.

This new Music Hall soon became very popular, so popular in fact that in 1886 Richard Wake completely demolished it and then rebuilt a new enlarged Royal Standard in its place to cash in on its popularity.

The ERA reviewed this new building in 1891 saying:- 'Entirely Re-built, Enlarged, and Re-decorated, being at the present time the most comfortable Hall of entertainment in London. No expense has been spared both on the Stage and in the Auditorium, to study the comfort of the Public.

Auditorium of the Royal Standard Music Hall from a programme dated May 2nd 1904The lighting of the Hall by electricity has now been completed, and by the brilliance of light and coolness throughout, testifying to its complete success.

Right - The Auditorium and Stage of the Royal Standard Music Hall - From a programme dated May 2nd 1904.

The Refreshment department has always been the careful study of the Proprietor. There is a large and Handsome Grill Room, open from 12 a.m. to 12 p.m.; Billiard Room, with two tables by Burroughes Watts; large Public Bars on the ground floor; and the continued and increased popularity of this Establishment sufficiently attests the estimation in which it is held.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the ERA in 1891.

Arthur Lloyd is known to have performed at the Royal Standard Music Hall in 1890 and 1892.

 

The Royal Standard Music Hall, from a programme - Courtesy Peter CharltonThe last owner of the Royal Standard Music Hall was Thomas S. Dickie who bought it in 1896. Two years later he had the place renovated and improved, reopening it on Monday October the 3rd 1898. The Stage Newspaper reported on the reopening in their 6th of October edition saying:- 'After being closed for some time this popular music hall was reopened on Monday night, under, as before, the proprietorship of Mr. T. S. Dickie, and the management of Mr. Fred Law. Some alterations which have been effected in the hall are to its improvement. The place has been thoroughly overhauled, papered, and painted. The principal alterations, however, are with the restaurant and public-house connected with the establishment, which will not be completed for a few weeks...

Right - The Facade of the Royal Standard Music Hall, from an early programme - Courtesy Peter Charlton.

Grill Room of the Royal Standard Music Hall from a programme dated May 2nd 1904Left - The Grill Room of the Royal Standard Music Hall - From a programme dated May 2nd 1904.

...War was the sketch that filled the house with enthusiasm on Monday. War, the Spanish-American incident so graphically illustrated by Mr. Frederick Maxwell, Mrs. Lois Du Cane, and company, is a safe card for any manager to play. The Mayvilles (Harry and Elsie), "Liliputian Wonders," proved an entertaining couple, and another sprightly pair are the Donnells (Kate and James), who gave duets briskly and danced in smart fashion. Harry Nation, a comic singer in the proper sense of the word, amused the audience with "Innocent Lambs" and "The Old brigade." Corbett showed versatility in changing from "My 'Enery," a low comedy ditty, to "The Work Girl," a pathetic lay calculated to bring tears to the eyes of the sympathetic, which won abundant applause. The Three Phydoras, described as "marvellous eccentrics"; the Zetina Family; Joe Lawrence, "the upside-down comedian"; Henri Cazman, in a new act; Rice, Rose, Davis, and The Half; Mam'zelle Flossie, an exceedingly capable artist, clever alike in song and dance; Nat Clifford; and Miss Billie Barlow, a universal favourite, made up the bill. Mr. Victor Opferman's valuable services as musical director are retained.' - The Stage, October 6th 1898.

 

Poster for the Royal Standard Music Hall during the last few months of its operation in 1910, and whilst still in the ownership of Thomas S. Dickie. The building was sold to Alfred Butt later that year and was subsequently demolished to make way for the building of the Victoria Palace Theatre in 1911. Poster for the Royal Standard Music Hall during the last few months of its operation in 1910, and whilst still in the ownership of Thomas S. Dickie. The building was sold to Alfred Butt later that year and was subsequently demolished to make way for the building of the Victoria Palace Theatre in 1911.

Above - Two Posters for the Royal Standard Music Hall during the last few months of its operation in 1910, and whilst still in the ownership of Thomas S. Dickie. The building was sold to Alfred Butt later that year and was subsequently demolished to make way for the building of the Victoria Palace Theatre in 1911.

Thomas S. Dickie sold the Music Hall in 1910 to Alfred Butt and this was the year that the Royal Standard, with the longest record of uninterrupted Music Hall and Variety performances in London, was demolished to make way for a brand new building called the Victoria Palace Theatre, see below. The Stage Newspaper mentioned the closure and imminent rebuilding in their October 20th 1910 edition saying:- '...The Royal Standard, Pimlico, finally closed its doors on Saturday, and almost immediately builders will start pulling down and re-building the house, as Mr. Alfred Butt is anxious that the Victoria Palace shall rise up on the old site with as little delay as possible. On Tuesday, October 25, a sale will take place on the premises of the whole of the contents, which include seating, scenery, and a large quantity of bar fittings, lounges, and miscellaneous furniture.' - The Stage, October 20th, 1910.

 

The Victoria Palace Theatre

The Victoria Palace Theatre during the run of The Crazy Gang's 'These Foolish Kings' in 1957 - Courtesy Gerry Atkins, who was principal dancer in the show.

Above - The Victoria Palace Theatre during the run of The Crazy Gang's 'These Foolish Kings' in 1957 - Courtesy Gerry Atkins, who was principal dancer in the show.

An early artist's impression of Frank Matcham's 1911 Victoria Palace Theatre.The Victoria Palace Theatre was designed by the renowned Theatre Architect Frank Matcham, and built by Henry Lovatt Ltd on the site of the former Royal Standard Music Hall at a cost of £12,000. The Theatre opened on the 6th November 1911.

This new Theatre which, due to extra land being bought by Alfred Butt, was a lot bigger than the Royal Standard, was also the last great variety house to be built in the West End.

The ERA enthused about the new Theatre in their 4th of November 1911 edition saying:- 'In the scheme of internal treatment the main object has been to combine a maximum of comfort and convenience with a prevailing note of simplicity. The handsome entrance hall through which the visitor passes to the stalls, dress circle, and boxes has walls of grey marble with embellishments of old gold mosaic and pillars of white Sicilian marble. Left and right from this vestibule there are cloakrooms and an elegant boudoir devoted to the comfort of the ladies.

Right - An early artist's impression of Frank Matcham's 1911 Victoria Palace Theatre.

From the vestibule to the stalls, dress circle, and boxes it is but a very few steps and this ease of accessibility will be appreciated by all who, having entered the house, desire to reach their places in as little time as possible. For the further convenience of visitors to the tea room, dress circle and box levels there has been installed a lift, a feature which, doubtless, will be greatly appreciated. An elaborate heating system has been installed, which enables an even temperature to be kept throughout the winter, and in the summer the magnificent sliding roofs of the auditorium and main vestibule permit the house to be kept delightfully cool.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the ERA, 4th November 1911.

 

The Auditorium of Frank Matcham's Victoria Palace Theatre in August 2008 - Photo M.L.

Above - The Auditorium of Frank Matcham's Victoria Palace Theatre in August 2008 - Photo M.L

 

Programme for Me and My Girl at the Victoria Palace TheatreThe Victoria Palace Theatre during the run of The Crazy Gang's 'These Foolish Kings' in 1957 - Courtesy Gerry Atkins, who was principal dancer in the show.This new Theatre was to have an illustrious career. It opened on the 6th November 1911 with a variety bill and over the years every famous music hall name appeared there.

Left - Programme for Lupino Lane in 'Me and My Girl' at the Victoria Palace Theatre.

The Theatre continued with plays, variety, repertory and revues, and in 1937 the musical 'Me and my Girl' opened, running for a record breaking 1,046 performances right up until the outbreak of war in 1939. The show was then revived again in 1944 and continued for another long run.

Right - The Victoria Palace Theatre during the run of The Crazy Gang's 'These Foolish Kings' in 1957 - Courtesy Gerry Atkins, who was principal dancer in the show.

Programme for the Crazy Gang at the Victoria Palace TheatreThe Theatre remained open during the war with, amongst others, George Black's 'Vanities,' 'La-Di-Da-Di-Da,' and Stanley Lupino in 'The Love Racket.'

In 1945 the Theatre went back to its roots with various variety productions for a year but then on 17th April 1947 The Crazy Gang took over the Theatre and had incredible success there for 15 years until 1962. The Theatre then became famous for The Black And White Minstrels shows which ran until 1970 and were regular features on television too.

 

The Victoria Palace Theatre during the run of The Crazy Gang's 'These Foolish Kings' in 1957 - Courtesy Gerry Atkins, who was principal dancer in the show.

Above - The Victoria Palace Theatre during the run of The Crazy Gang's 'These Foolish Kings' in 1957 - Courtesy Gerry Atkins, who was principal dancer in the show.

The Auditorium of Frank Matcham's Victoria Palace Theatre in August 2008 - Photo M.L.

Above - The Auditorium of Frank Matcham's Victoria Palace Theatre in August 2008 - Photo M.L.

A 1970s Seating Plan for the Victoria Palace Theatre

Above - A 1970s Seating Plan for the Victoria Palace Theatre

 

A Programme for the Royal Gala Premiere of 'High Society' at the Victoria Palace Theatre on the 18th of February 1987 in the presence of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.The Victoria Palace was one of Matcham's finest achievements and still stands today much in its original condition. The Theatre has rarely been dark and has put on a string of musicals and plays ever since. Recent successes were 'Annie,' 'Barnum,' 'High Society', 'Buddy,' which ran for six years, 'Jolson,' and the current hit 'Billy Elliot.'

Right - A Programme for the Royal Gala Premiere of 'High Society' at the Victoria Palace Theatre on the 18th of February 1987 in the presence of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.

The crown of the dome, now with the figure of Pavlova back in her rightful position. Photo M.L. 06.In 1991 Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen took over the Theatre from its long time owners Stoll Moss Theatres. Cohen went on to lavish a great deal of time and money on the building, enlarging the Foyer, adding modern W.C. facilities, increasing the dressing rooms, adding a new bar on the ground floor where an alley originally ran along the side of the building, and, in 2006, replaced the figure of Pavlova which originally crowned the dome but had been missing since being removed in the second world war.

Left - The crown of the dome of the Victoria Palace Theatre, now with the figure of Pavlova back in her rightful position. Photo M.L. 06.

A poster for a Twice Nightly Variety show at the Victoria Palace Theatre for Monday June the 29th 1925 - Courtesy Tony CraigFrom 2012 the Victoria Palace Theatre began suffering major upheaval due to works on enlarging and upgrading Victoria Station. The Theatre became something of an island site whilst all the surrounding buildings were demolished. The Stage Newspaper reported on the resolution of a long running dispute between the Theatre's owners and London Underground about these works in their 16th of January 2009 edition which you can read here. The works have however revealed the Theatre's side and rear elevations for the first time since its construction some 100 years earlier (See images below).

Right - A poster for a Twice Nightly Variety show at the Victoria Palace Theatre for Monday June the 29th 1925 - Courtesy Tony Craig whose mother Jessie Jewel, and her brother Joe Ring, are featured on the Bill as Jewel & Ring. De Groot, the famous Violinist was top of the Bill.

The Theatre's Rank Strand MMS lighting board which was situated in one of the stage left Auditorium boxes and used for many productions at the Victoria Palace in the 1980s. - Photo M.L.Left - The Theatre's Rank Strand MMS lighting board which was situated in one of the stage left Auditorium boxes and used for many productions at the Victoria Palace in the 1980s.

In 2014 Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen sold the Victoria Palace to Delfont Mackintosh Theatres who announced at the time that 'Billy Elliot' would continue to run at the Theatre until the Autumn of 2016 when planned extensions to the stage house would be carried out along with refurbishment of the Theatre.

The Victoria Palace Theatre currently seats 1,550, you may like to visit the Theatre's own website here.

Some of the information on this page was gleaned from Diana Howard's 'London Theatres and Music Halls 1850 - 1950, and Mander and Mitchenson's 'Theatres of London.'

 

The side elevation of the Victoria Palace Theatre is revealed for the first time since it was constructed, during development work on the surrounding area for the enlargement and upgrade of Victoria Station in March 2012 - Photo M.L.

Above - The side elevation of the Victoria Palace Theatre is revealed for the first time since it was constructed, during development work on the surrounding area for the enlargement and upgrade of Victoria Station in March 2012 - The Theatre has become a virtual island site since the work began but will be in a position to have its stage and backstage areas enlarged once the works are completed in 2016 - Photo M.L.

The rear elevation of the Victoria Palace Theatre is revealed for the first time since it was constructed, during development work on the surrounding area for the enlargement and upgrade of Victoria Station in March 2012 -  Photo M.L.

Above - The rear elevation of the Victoria Palace Theatre is revealed for the first time since it was constructed, during development work on the surrounding area for the enlargement and upgrade of Victoria Station in March 2012 - The Theatre has become a virtual island site since the work began but will be in a position to have its stage and backstage areas enlarged once the works are completed in 2016 - Photo M.L.

 

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