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Apollo Victoria

  • Theatre
  • Victoria
APOLLO VICTORIA
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Time Out says

The witches of 'Wicked' are working their magic in this massive art deco theatre

A cinema in its former life, the imposing art deco Apollo Victoria is now one of the largest theatres in London. Its muscular concrete facade originally scandalised passers by when the venue opened in 1930, with its unadorned, modernist vertical lines giving it the uncharitable nickname of 'Sing Sing', after the New York prison. But even the venue's harshest critics couldn't knock the beauty of its 2,200-seater auditorium, with its nautical-themed chrome stylings, fairytale columns, and extravagant scallop shells surrounding a vast central dome.

Finding a show that's epic (and popular) enough to pack out this huge venue is no mean feat. After years of success as a cinema, the Apollo struggled to find its groove in the '70s. It closed for five years, and then transitioned from cinema to theatre in the early ’80s - and luckily, Andrew Lloyd Webber, master of large-scale theatrical spectacle, was helpfully on hand to set the tone. The musical don’s 1984 production of ‘Starlight Express’ (featuring an auditorium-filling, multi-tier rollerskating track) kept the house busy for 18 years and only hung up its skates to make way for Webber’s epic Indian musical ‘Bombay Dreams’ in 2002.

These days, Apollo Victoria is synonymous with magical Broadway import ‘Wicked’ which has bathed the theatre in green light since its premiere in September 2006. Its huge scale makes it the perfect home for the musical's ambitious production design, which includes giant steampunk-inspired cogs and even a glowing dragon, coiled over the stage. 

Details

Address:
17
Wilton Road
Westminster
London
SW1V 1LG
Transport:
Rail/Tube: Victoria
Price:
Various
Opening hours:
Check website for show times
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‘Hamilton’ tickets and review

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Okay, let’s just get this out of the way. ‘Hamilton’ is stupendously good. Yes, it’s kind of a drag that there’s so much hype around it. But there was a lot of hype around penicillin. And that worked out pretty well. If anything – and I’m truly sorry to say this – Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical about Alexander Hamilton, the first secretary of the US Treasury, is actually better than the hype suggests. That’s because lost in some of the more waffly discourse around its diverse casting and sociological import is the fact that ‘Hamilton’ is, first and foremost, a ferociously enjoyable show. You probably already know that it’s a hip hop musical, something that’s been tried before with limited success. Here it works brilliantly, because Miranda – who wrote everything – understands what mainstream audiences like about hip hop, what mainstream audiences like about musical theatre, and how to craft a brilliant hybrid. Put simply, it’s big emotions and big melodies from the former, and thrilling, funny, technically virtuosic storytelling from the latter. ‘Alexander Hamilton’, the opening tune, exemplifies everything that’s great about the show. It’s got a relentlessly catchy build and momentum, a crackling, edge-of-seat sense of drama, and is absolutely chockablock with information, as the key players stride on to bring us up to speed with the eventful life that Hamilton – the ‘bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman’ – led before he emigrated to America in 1772 as a teenager. (

Wicked review

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Musicals

The film world continues its love affair with werewolves, vampires and all things 'Twilight'. But theatre types have always known witches are where it's at. After its 2006 opening at Apollo Victoria, Oz prequel 'Wicked' continues to fill this massive theatre with an international crowd of voracious consumers (glass of champagne and a choccy for £16 anyone?). But this stylish and bombastic musical still delivers, sailing over its patchy score thanks to a gravity-defying performance from its current leading lady Rachel Tucker, as the intense green-skinned undergrad who goes on to become the Wicked Witch of the West. 'Wicked' is a spectacle that rises or falls around its central performance. In the midst of a gigantic production full of bangs, bells and whistles Tucker, with her small frame and searing vocal ability, simply flies off with the show. She's closely followed by Gina Beck, who plays good girl, Glinda. Glinda and Elphaba's relationship forms the heart of this story and, as the Good Witch, Beck is a consummate clown, playing up the silliness of her character at every turn. But she can raise a tear, too, and her final duet with Tucker, 'For Good', is genuinely heart-rending. The Tim Burton-inspired ensemble oscillate between the hypnotic and grotesque and a sweet but thin voiced Matt Willis charms as the rather superfluous Prince. As in classical ballet, this is all about the women and, even by previous lead Idina Menzel's standards, they are in soaring form here. This

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