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Palace Theatre history

The Palace Theatre has been a venue for some of the best entertainment in London since 1891, when it was opened by Richard D’Oyly Carte. The inaugural production was a opulent production of Arthur Sullivan’s Ivanhoe.

Soon after this, however, the venue was renamed The Palace Theatre of Varieties and became known for putting on some of the best revue shows and musical comedies of the period, including Caesar and Harbach’s No, No, Nanette in 1925, which ran for almost two years, Princess Charming, Cabaret, and The Gay Divorcee, in which Fred Astaire gave his last performance on the London stage before moving to Hollywood.

The late 1920s to '30s saw a succession of well-received shows including The Girlfriend in 1927 and the 1935 production of Anything Goes. The theatre kept running throughout World War Two, during which time Jack Hulbert and Cicely Courtnedige starred in a number of musicals including the 1943 hit production of Something In The Air.

The Palace is well known for being the home of the original London production of The Sound of Music, which ran at the venue from 1961 for 2385 performances. The theatre was also home to the London premier of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s first hit, Jesus Christ Superstar, which ran for an astonishing eight years. However the show that beat them all is the musical Les Miserables, which made its West End debut at the theatre in 1985 and ran for 18 and a half years before transferring to the Queen’s Theatre in 2004.

Following the transfer of Les Miserables a production of The Woman in White staring Michael Ball moved in to the venue, followed by the London premier of the Monty Python musical comedy Spamalot which ran from 2006 through to 2009. Next came the musical stage adaptation of cult film Priscilla Queen of the Desert, which ran through 2011, then came Singin’ In The Rain in 2012. The production was a transfer from Chichester Festival Theatre and ran for one year.

After a limited run of Derren Brown: Infamous, the theatre became home to the world premier of Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments in 2013.