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Palace Theatre

A guide to the Palace Theatre in London's West End

The Palace Theatre, which opened its doors as the Royal English Opera House in January 1891 before changing its name to The Palace Theatre in 1911, is a major venue for blockbuster musicals.

Located in the heart of the West End, at the intersection of Charing Cross Road and Shaftesbury Avenue, the theatre is within easy walking distance of many popular restaurants and pubs making it ideal if you're looking to combine a visit to it with either a theatre-meal deal or pre- or post-theatre drinks.

Situated just 200m from Leicester Square and very close to Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square and Covent Garden tube stations, the Palace Theatre has a capacity of 1,400 across four levels: stalls, dress circle, grand circle and balcony. In 2004, following the transfer of Les Miserables, the theatre's magnificent, almost intact original interior underwent the final stage of a major facelift which saw it restored to its former glory.

The history

Designed by Richard D'Oyly Carte, the theatre was built in an era that saw Shaftesbury Avenue, which up until 1891 had only two theatres, overtake the Strand as the centre of London's theatreland. Its first show was a production of Arthur Sullivan's Ivanhoe. Unfortunately, the venue proved a failure as an opera house and one year later became The Palace Theatre of Varieties, a music hall, acquiring its present name in 1911.

In the early years of the 20th century the theatre began showing films and in 1922 the Marx Brothers appeared here, performing selections from their Broadway shows. Three years later the musical No, No Nanette opened, beginning a run of musical theatre productions for which the Palace Theatre is best-known, including The Sound of Music, Jesus Christ Superstar, Les Miserables, The Commitments and Spamalot.

The theatre was bought by Andrew Lloyd-Webber in 1983 and premiered his musical The Woman in White, after which it underwent the first of a number of stages of major refurbishment. In April 2012, the Palace Theatre was sold by Lloyd-Webber's Really Useful company to its current owners, Nimax Theatres.

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