Palace Theatre

Theatre, Musicals Soho
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Palace Theatre

The Palace Theatre is a London landmark with its 1400-seater red-brick building, looming over the busy intersection of Cambridge Circus at the head of Shaftesbury Avenue. Designed by Thomas Collcuttt, it was commissioned by Richard D’Oyly Carte, who hoped it would become the home of English opera, and opened in 1891. But D’Oyly Carte lacked the managerial nous or artistic leadership to make the project successful and he was forced to sell the same year. The theatre reopened as the Palace of Varieties, finally becoming known as the Palace in 1911.

Musical theatre has traditionally been the venue’s stock in trade. Fred Astaire’s last stage show, ‘The Gay Divorce’, played here in the 1930s and, more recently, the theatre has hosted blockbuster productions of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and, most significantly, the West End transfer of the RSC’s moneyspinner ‘Les Miserables’, which ran at the Palace for 18 years before decamping to the Queen’s up the road. Following its departure, the theatre underwent some interior refurbishment; Derren Brown played a season, before Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Wilkie Collins-inspired show ‘The Woman in White’ moved in and promptly flopped. Comedy was back on the menu thereafter, with a run for the Monty Python musical ‘Spamalot’ followed by the Palace’s current inhabitants, the fabulous drag queens of ‘Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’.

RECOMMENDED: All the latest news from 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child


Venue name: Palace Theatre
Address: 109-113
Shaftesbury Avenue
Transport: Tube: Leicester Square/Piccadilly Circus
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  • Drama Until Sunday January 13 2019

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The Palace Theatre is currently showing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and I would hypothesise that it will do so for some years to come.

It's perfect for this task, with a grand and old fashioned interior, a prime position at the corner of Shaftesbury Avenue and plentiful seating for a large and excited audience.

Facilities-wise it's a mixed bag. Our seats in the balcony (F10 and 11) gave us a surprisingly great view, but were so knee-crushingly small that anyone over 5 ft 8 will struggle. There's a very steep rake to the balcony, so if you're afraid of heights then avoid at all costs.

There are of course too few ladies' toilets, as is the case with every old theatre in London. However, the bars are pleniful and the drinks fairly good value (for theatre prices) at £8 for a Bellini. They stock Joe&Seph's popcorn too, which is a bonus.

The Cursed Child could be performed on an abandoned industrial estate and the crowds would still flock to see it, but the Palace serves as a fitting backdrop. Just be prepared to pay a little more for seats if you want some legroom!