Opening in 1891, the Palace Theatre was designed by the architect Thomas Edward Collcutt and was originally built for the purpose of hosting opera. Its debut performance saw the Royal English Opera House present a lavish production of Arthur Sullivan’s Ivanhoe. In later years, the venue was converted into a musical hall and renamed the Palace Theatre Of Varieties to fit its new purpose.
The theatre rapidly gained a reputation for hosting its musicals, beginning with the first long-running production of the 1925 musical comedy No, No, Nanette. Since then, the Palace has been home to other impressively long runs, including The Sound Of Music with 2,385 performances, Jesus Christ Superstar which played there for eight years, and Les Misérables, which played enjoyed a nineteen-year long run at the theatre before moving to the Queen’s.
Before being taken over by Nimax Theatres Group, the Palace Theatre was owned by Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group for many years. Under Lloyd Webber’s direction, the theatre underwent improvements during 1983, and included efforts to restore its original interior grandeur. This procedure included the paint in the auditorium being removed to reveal the original layer of marble and onyx panel, and the neon sign of the exterior of the theatre being taken off (somewhat controversially) to showcase the theatre’s terracotta foundations, which gives the venue its distinctive red appearance.
The Palace Theatre has famously played host in recent years to the international phenomenon Harry Potter And The Cursed Child. The show received a record-breaking nine Olivier Awards in 2017.