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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.
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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...West End Until Saturday November 28 2020