Next Show: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
First performance: 1st July 2021
Booking until: 5th September 2021
Running time: Awaiting information
Address: 8 Argyll St, London W1F 7TF
Air Conditioning: Yes
Current Owner: LW Theatres
Box Office: +44 (0) 20 7087 7757
Discounts, Day seats, Rush tickets & Lotteries
Box Office: +44 (0) 20 7087 7757
Stage Door: +44 (0) 20 7850 8770
Many of London’s theatres are accessed from below or above street level. If you need to avoid steps, it is advisable to contact the theatre directly by telephone or email as they will be able to advise you on which seats are most easily accessed. Many have specially adapted wheelchair spaces.
Theatres may be able to provide additional facilities for customers with a hearing or visual impairment and some shows may also offer specific, adapted performances. It’s best to check with the venue directly via one of the following methods:
Access Bookings: Call +44 (0) 20 7087 7757
Society of London Theatre also offers useful information for visitors with a disability or specific access need.
Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus
Buses: Number 3, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 23, 25, 53, 55, 73, 88, 94, 98, 113, 137, 139, and 159
Check out Transport for London’s excellent TFL Journey Planner
The London Palladium occupies a site which was originally the home of the Dukes of Argyll; Argyll House. The first Earl of Aberdeen lived here until 1860, when the building was demolished. The land was then excavated, and extensive wine cellars built, with a temporary Corinthian Bazaar erected above them.
The bazaar, constructed entirely of wood, included an aviary of live birds. It was eventually condemned as unsafe and in 1884, a new circus structure was built. Hengler’s Grand Cirque (built by Fredrick Hengler, son of a tightrope walker) was designed by C J Phipps. However, Circus was already falling out of favour and by 1895, the building was reconfigured for use as a skating rink, called the National Skating Palace.
A decade later, in 1905, attempts were made to recapture the heyday of circus and the building was renamed The Royal Italian Circus. However, the newly opened London Hippodrome, which combined Circus and Music Hall proved too much competition and the building closed. The lease was purchased by a syndicate headed by Walter Gibbons, who planned a new Musical Hall for the site.
The Palladium we know today was designed by esteemed theatre architect Frank Matcham for Walter Gibbons at a cost of £250,000 (around £30 million today), although its façade still dates from the 19thCentury.
Interiors were white and gold, with rich red seating. Rose du Barry (a soft pink) decorations adorned the boxes, with marble balustrade adding to the sense of luxury. At the back of the stalls, the great ‘Palm Court’ could serve tea to as many as a thousand guests. In this Palm Court, a ladies orchestra played daily between performances.
The Palladium (as it was originally known) opened on Boxing Day, 26th December 1910 with a ‘grand variety bill’ featuring artists including Music Hall star Nellie Wallace and classical actor Martin Harvey. The evening was a roaring success, and the theatre soon began attracting the biggest names in showbusiness. The theatre had a revolving stage and its own telephone system, which those occupying boxes could use to call one another. The original capacity was 3,435 – reduced today to a little under 2,300.
The theatre’s early years were dominated by Music Hall, Melodrama and Operetta as well as Farce and, of course, Variety. In 1912, Charles Gulliver took over the running of The Palladium, introducing a full schedule, with two shows each night and three matinees a week.
Famous names to top the bill in the 1920s included illusionist Harry Houdini, comic and singer Gracie Fields, and one of the nation’s biggest stars, Ivor Novello. The decade also saw successful long-running shows such as Rockets which ran for 490 performances, Whirl of the World (627 performances), Sky High (309 performances) as well as Folies Bergeres, Palladium Pleasures of Life and The Apache.
Pantomimes also formed an important part of the theatre’s history. Remarkably, footage still exists from the 1926 Palladium production of Cinderella.
In 1928, the Palladium was bought by The General Theatre Corporation (a chain of theatres, cinemas and dance halls), who ran it as a cinema for several months. However, this was somewhat of a failure and the Palladium fell dark for a short time. It reopened on 3rd September under theatre impresario/producer George Black. At the time, the theatre had been on the verge of bankruptcy; Black turned things around in spectacular style, staging large Variety shows – the very kind for which the theatre had first been intended.
Under Black, the London Palladium hosted the Royal Variety Performance for the first time on 22nd May 1930, going on to stage it every year until 1938. First staged in 1912 at the Palace Theatre, the Royal Variety Performance has since been hosted in many different venues, but it is the London Palladium which is still considered its true home.
During the 1930s, Black also presented the inaugural Crazy Week. Crazy Week initially featured three pairings, Nervo and Knox, Naughton and Gold and Billy Caryll and Hilda Mundy. Caryll and Mundy were later replaced by Bud Flanagan and Chesney Allen, and the Crazy Gang was born.
Pantomime continued as a regular feature of the Palladium – a particular favourite during the 1930s was Peter Pan, which was a fixture each Christmas from 1930 to 1938.
The 1930s also featured many of the biggest names in the Jazz world, including Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller and Cab Calloway. It was under Black’s management that the Palladium gained its reputation as ‘The World’s Leading Variety Theatre’.
Performances were suspended during the Blitz. On 11th May 1941, the theatre was hit by a German parachute mine. The device fell through the roof and became lodge above the stage. The mine was located and defused by a team from the Royal Navy bomb disposal squad, including Sub Lieutenant Graham Maurice Wright, who was subsequently awarded the George Medal for gallantry. Tragically, Wright lost his life just months later aboard the torpedoed navy ship SS Aguila.
Despite the inevitable hiatus during the Blitz, for the remainder of WWII the theatre continued to attract large audiences, drawn to see the biggest stars of the day from Max Miller to Vera Lynn and Carmen Miranda to Laurel and Hardy.
George Black managed the Palladium until his death in 1945.
Following George Black’s death in 1945, running of the Palladium was taken over by new General Manager Val Parnell. The theatre’s ownership also changed hands, becoming a part of Moss Empires.
For the first few years, Parnell continued Black’s style of running things and then, in 1948, he focused on Variety shows once more – with spectacular success.
In the 1950s, under Parnell, the theatre became known as the ‘Ace Variety Theatre of the World’. Parnell persuaded the biggest American stars to appear here, including the Marx Brothers, Abbott and Costello, Bob Hope, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. Along with the biggest names in British entertainment, Julie Andrews, Cilla Black, Ken Dodd, Shirley Bassey, Frankie Howerd and Tommy Steel, these star names cemented the London Palladium’s reputation as the home of truly world class entertainment.
However, Parnell’s tenure was not without controversy. Many of the British stars were relegated to second billing, which was not always popular.
In the mid 1950s, Parnell brought live theatre into the nation’s homes through televised broadcasts of Sunday Night at the London Palladium. These shows attracted vast TV audiences and made household names of hosts Bruce Forsyth and Jimmy Tarbuck. Forsyth would go on to appear here many times over subsequent decades, including a week-long 1998 residency to celebrate his 70th birthday and a one-off Sunday Night at the London Palladium starring Diana Ross.
Such was Bruce Forsyth’s bond with the Palladium, that after he passed away in 2017, his ashes were interred beneath the stage. He is commemorated with a blue plaque on a nearby wall with the description ‘Without question the UK’s greatest entertainer, he rests in peace within the sound of music, laughter and dancing… exactly where he would want to be.’
On 13th October 1963, Sunday Night at the London Palladium featured a performance by The Beatles. Rumour has it, that it was following this performance that one national paper coined the phrase Beatlemania to describe growing public hysteria around the band. They followed up this appearance at the Royal Variety Performance on 4th November 1963.
Another national treasure, Tommy Steele, was also a regular headliner at the Palladium. In 2005, during a Christmas run of Scrooge, Steele became the artist to have headlined more productions here than any other. He is honoured with a plaque in the Cinderella bar.
The London Palladium has hosted some of the most lavish pantomimes ever seen. Over the years, these have starred the likes of Cliff Richard, who appeared with the Shadows in Aladdin in 1964 and Cinderella in 1966.
Parnell had by this time become associated with a property development company. He courted controversy once again when, in 1966 it became known that plans were underway to sell the London Palladium (along with the Victoria Palace and Theatre Royal Drury Lane) for development. A take-over was organised by Prince Littler and the theatres were ultimately reprieved.
1968 marked the arrival of musical theatre here at the London Palladium. The first was the Charles Strouse/Lee Adams musical Golden Boy, featuring Sammy Davis Jr. This was followed in 1974 by Harold Fielding’s Hans Andersen, which once again starred Tommy Steele in the title role. The show was initially booked for a single Christmas season but proved so popular, that it ran for a year and returned in 1977.
It was here at the London Palladium in July 1974, that singer Cass Elliott (Mama Cass) staged her final concerts. Just forty-eight hours after her final performance, she was found in her rented Mayfair flat having died in her sleep at the age of just thirty-two.
Bing Crosby appeared at the London Palladium in 1976, where he recorded Bing Crosby Live at the London Palladium. Later the same year, Marvin Gaye also recorded a live concert at the venue – the similarly named Live at the London Palladium.
In 1979, Yul Brynner starred in The King and I, opposite Virginia McKenna in a role which would come to define his career. Bizarrely, Brynner’s association with the Palladium continued when, in 1981, the cellars of the theatre housed a waxworks museum. Appropriately named ‘The Palladium Cellars’, the exhibition was headlined by a live projection automaton of Brynner, as the gun-slinging cowboy from Westworld.
The same year saw Michael Crawford star in Harold Fielding’s production of Barnum. Then, in 1983, Fielding produced Singin’ in the Rain with Tommy Steele starring, this time alongside Roy Castle (the production was also revived in 1989).
In 1985, at the height of the AIDS crisis, Jerry Herman’s La Cage Aux Folles opened. The show had already wowed audiences in New York, and despite running in London for just a little over six months, its message of positivity and acceptance provided a beacon of light to the theatre community – an industry which had been hit harder than any most.
By the late 1980s, the Palladium was once again hosting ITV’s Live from the Palladium, with compere Jimmy Tarbuck. The theatre was, by now, under the ownership of Stoll Moss Theatres and managed by Stoll Moss shareholders Margaret and David Locke.
In 1998, a stage musical adaptation of Saturday Night Fever, directed and choreographed by Arlene Phillips, featured Adam Garcia as Tony – a role made first famous on the silver screen by John Travolta.
The 1990s saw Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat redesigned for a new generation of theatregoers. The production was a hit, starring Jason Donovan in the title role with Linzi Hateley as Narrator. Donovan was later succeeded by Phillip Schofield.
In 1994, Topol reprised his 1971 movie role as Tevye in Fiddler of the Roof. This was followed by Cameron Mackintosh’s smash hit revival of Lionel Bart’s Oliver. The show originally starred Jonathan Pryce as Fagin – boots subsequently filled by George Layton, Russ Abbot, Robert Lindsay, Barry Humphries and Jim Dale.
As a new millennium dawned, The London Palladium was brought into Really Useful Group (now the LW Theatres family – the LW being Lloyd Webber). The first production in this new era was The King and Istarring Elaine Paige and Jason Scott.
After The King and I, the London Palladium’s revolve was removed to accommodate the technology required to make a car fly in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Despite the car sometimes having a mind of its own, the show currently holds the longest-running show record at this theatre, clocking up an impressive 1,414 performances.
Cutting-edge technology was used again in 2006, this time for a production of Sinatra using the latest innovations in video to recreate the late, great Frank Sinatra ‘live’ on stage with a mix of recorded footage and live performers. This was followed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and David Ian’s new production of The Sound of Music, which used a prime-time TV show to allow the public to cast a then unknown actress, Connie Fisher, in the lead role of Maria.
The Palladium is still able to host one-off performances during long-running shows, with scenery often hoisted above the stage into the fly loft. On 18th and 25th February 2007, this enabled Rufus Wainwright to stage two sell-out Judy Garland tribute concerts. Later the same year, the theatre hosted the 2007 BAFTAs– these star-studded awards would also return in 2010.
In 2009, a movie-to-musical adaptation of Sister Act arrived from the US. The show starred Patina Miller as Delores Van Cartier, with Sheila Hancock as Mother Superior and ran until 30th October 2010. Since the theatre’s original revolve had now been removed, a temporary revolve was installed for this production. After Sister Act closed, the theatre embarked upon major building works to transform the front of house areas for future generations.
On Boxing Day (26th December) 2010, the theatre marked its centenary with a gala concert paying tribute to the many famous artists who appeared here over the previous hundred years. A plaque was unveiled by Bruce Forsyth, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Danielle Hope and marked by special radio broadcasts on BBC Radio 2, Radio 4 and BBC2.
In 2011, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new production of The Wizard of Oz opened, allowing the public to see first-hand the extensive renovations to Box Office, improved access to the Dress Circle and Stalls, and addition of more (much needed) ladies lavatories.
2013 saw the first full West End production of A Chorus Line since 1976. The show featured John Partridge as Zach and Scarlett Strallen as Cassie. Later the same year, the theatre hosted Barry Humphries’ farewell tour, Eat Pray Laugh, as well as several one-off specials by artists including Sir Elton John and Robbie Williams.
The following year began with Jonathan Ross interviewing Sylvester Stallone on stage, before the ill-fated Simon Cowell/Harry Hill musical I Can’t Sing arrived, featuring Cynthia Erivo, closing after just 6 weeks and reportedly losing £4 million.
In 2014, Really Useful Group divided, with the owning division becoming the Really Useful Theatres Group. Later that year, a new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats strayed into the Palladium, with former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger in the role of Grizabella. Kerry Ellis took over for the final weeks of the run, with the show returning the following year, this time starring Beverley Knight.
In 2015, productions of Beyond Bollywood and Sinatra graced the Palladium stage, along with the return of TV broadcasts of Sunday Night at the London Palladium, which brought the theatre back full circle to the days of Variety performance. The year also saw a record-breaking performance by Comic Relief and an 80thBirthday concert for US rock pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis.
Artists performing here in 2016 included Bryan Ferry, Primal Scream, Anastacia, Elvis Costello and Coldplay. Then, at the end of 2016, the first of the current run of Christmas pantomimes began with Cinderella. The show was produced by Qdos Entertainment and featured, amongst others, Julian Clary, Paul O’Grady, Amanda Holden, Lee Mead and Nigel Havers.
In 2017, Styles and Drewe musical The Wind In The Willows arrived for a short run. Other performers of note that year included Bob Dylan, Whoopi Goldberg, 10CC, Billy Ocean, Alison Moyet and Suzanne Vega. The Christmas Pantomime was Dick Whittington – again starring Julian Clary, this time joined by Elaine Paige, Ashley Banjo and Charlie Stemp.
In 2018, The King and I transferred here from the Lincoln Centre, New York. Other artists included Morrissey, Suggs, Alexander O’Neal and The Proclaimers. Later the same year, Andrew Lloyd Webber unveiled ‘The Wall of Fame’. This new art installation by Lee Simmons was commissioned by Lloyd Webber as part of the renovations to the theatre’s Grade II listed exterior. It can be seen at the theatre’s Stage Door on Great Marlborough Street and pays homage to the many stars appearing here over the past 100 years.
The 2018 Christmas panto, Snow White, once again starred Julian Clary, joined on this occasion by Dawn French and Danielle Hope.
In 2019 the Palladium welcomed Dame Joan Collins, Joan Baez, Michael Bolton, Tim Minchin and Hozier. The undoubted Box Office hit of the year was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new production of Joseph and theAmazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the show, the production starred Sheridan Smith and Jason Donovan, and introduced Jac Yarrow as Joseph.
2019’s Christmas Pantomime was Goldilocks and the Three Bears, once again starring Clary, now joined by Paul O’Grady and Matt Baker.
2020 began with a residency by global pop icon, Madonna, in her Madame X tour. Then, Covid-19 hit and the London Palladium, along with all West End Theatres closed.
Later that year, Lord Lloyd Webber used the London Palladium for test events, attempting to prove that venues could re-open safely with social distancing, mask-wearing and enhanced cleaning and ventilation in place. This would become an important stepping-stone to a gradual reopening of West End theatres.
The first performance after the first Covid lockdown was a concert by Beverley Knight, on 23rd July 2020. The theatre officially reopened on 1st August 2020 with social distancing in place. Instead of a traditional pantomime, in 2020, the Palladium presented Pantoland at the Palladium. In the end, only a few performances went ahead, before Covid restrictions once again closed all West End theatres.
In 2021, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat returned for a limited summer run, with Alexandra Burke and Linzi Hateley alternating the role of Narrator. In the same year, An Audience with Adele was filmed here as part of her comeback and promotion for her new album, 30.
For its 2021 Christmas season, the theatre reprised Pantoland at the Palladium (this time with full audiences) and starring Donnie Osmond. The West End continued to be affected by sporadic cancelled performances as cast and crew succumbed to covid infections.
In 2022, with theatres gradually returning to a new normal, shows included Strictly Come Dancing: The Professionals and performances by Diversity, The Divine Comedy, Matt Goss, Todrick Hall and Katherine Ryan.
Today, the London Palladium seats a little under 2,300. In the West End, only the London Coliseum is larger. At the time of writing, it has hosted the Royal Variety Performance a record 43 times.
A little-known fact – the theatre is built above two artesian wells which draw water from 420 feet below, supplementing the mains water supply. The theatre retains several of its original design features and has been Grade II* listed since 1960. Fans of Alfred Hitchcock films may wish to note that the climax of 1935 spy thriller The 39 Steps was filmed at the London Palladium.
The London Palladium is currently owned by LW Theatres.
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Disclaimer: We take care to provide accurate information. Records prior to internet age can be difficult to verify so we only list productions back as far as the year 2000, however we hold some records prior to this date offline. If you would like more information, or are aware of any errors, please contact us here. “One night only” productions and private theatre hires are not listed.
Arthur Lloyd’s Theatre Website offers an encyclopaedic insight into the history of the West End’s theatres.
Theatricalia is a database of past & future theatre productions.
Thisistheatre also offers interesting insights into the history of London’s theatres.
The Theatres Trust offers information and support for our nation’s theatres.