UK – London – Palladium

Dates: 26 December 1910 – present

Official website: http://www.reallyuseful.com/theatres/london-palladium/

Venue capacity: 2300 (Stalls, 1000; Royal Circle, 600). London’s 5th largest. 

One of the most famous variety venues in the world, the Palladium has been open and showcasing the finest acts and shows for over 100 years.

People

  • Bill Platt – Chief Electrician (started at the theatre 1941, made Chief LX in 1972, retired 1 September 1990, after 46 years at the Palladium) Born 5 October 1926, died suddenly on Saturday January 30 1993 at 11pm. (Obituary in The Stage, 1 April 1993)
  • Linford Hudson – Followspot Operator (1960s-2010s)
  • Julian Williams – Deputy LX (late 1960s – 1970s)

History and selected productions

  • Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamboat (26 June – 8 September 2019)
  • Snow White (8 December 2018 – 13 January 2019)
  • The King and I (June 2018 – 29 September 2018) Transfer from Broadway, starring Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe
  • Dick Whittington (December 2017 – January 2018)
  • Cinderella (10 December 2016 – January 2017)
  • Eugenius! () Concert performance
  • Cats (revival) (23 October 2015 – 2 January 2016)
  • Sinatra The Man & His Music (10 July 2015 – 10 October 2015)
  • Beyond Bollywood (8 May 2015 – 27 June 2015)
  • Cats (revival) (6 December 2014 –  ?April 2015)
  • I Can’t Sing! The X Factor Musical (25 March 2014 – 10 May 2014)
  • A Chorus Line (2 February 2013 – 31 August 2013)
  • Scrooge – The Musical (24 October 2012 – 5 January 2013)
  • The Wizard of Oz (7 February 2011 – September 2012)
  • Sister Act the Musical (2 June 2009 – 2011)
  • The Sound of Music (November 2006 – 21 February 2009)
  • Sinatra (February 2006)
  • Scrooge – The Musical (Christmas 2005 – 14 January 2006)
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (16 April 2002 – 4 September 2005)
  • The revolving stage was removed during pre-production for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, to make room for the hydraulic arm and lift which carried the car from understage to a centre-stage position (and into the air above)
  • The King and I (3 May 2000 – 5 January 2002)
  • 2000: The Palladium is acquired by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group
  • Saturday Night Fever (1998)
  • Oliver! (1994 – 1998)
  • Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (June 1991 – 1994)
  • Singin’ in the Rain (30 June 1983 to 28 September 1985) starring Tommy Steele
  • Barnum (June 11 1981 – February 5 1983) starring Michael Crawford
  • The Liberace Las Vegas Show (17 April – 29 April 1978) featuring The Dancing Waters
  • 1972: Bill Platt (started as an electrician / Light Console operator in 1941) becomes Chief Electrician
  • 1960 September: The London Palladium is Grade II listed by English Heritage.
  • Sunday Night at the London Palladium (1955 – ) ran for 13 years, filming 39 shows each year
    The theatre is re-equipped with new stage lighting systems to satisfy the requirements of 1950s TV technology. 

    • October 1963:  featuring The Beatles.
  • Gangway (1941) Strand’s prototype Light Console was installed at the Palladium for this show. 
  • Peter Pan (1930 – 1938) hugely popular pantomime which ran every Christmas during this period. 
  • 1912: Royal Variety Show performances begin. Around half have been at the Palladium. 
  • 1910: December 26th – The London Palladium opens
  • 1884: The venue becomes the National Skating Palace, and features a rink of real ice.
    However, this venture failed, leading to the interior being redesigned by Frank Matcham.
  • 1871: The theatre was rebuilt by Frederick Hengler, and renamed the ‘Grand Cirque’; a circus venue that included an aquatic display in a flooded ring. It was also known as Hengler’s Circus. 

Stage Technology

Communications

When the Palladium opened, it had it’s own telephone system, between the boxes. 

Drum Revolve

From The Stage Guide, 1945:
‘Revolving stage’
is mentioned – was this the same three-ring drum revolve mentioned in the 1971 guide? 

From Who’s Who In theatre, 1961 (via Arthur Lloyd website)
‘Revolving stage 32 feet in diameter. Centre table rises 5 feet and lowers 6 foot 6 inches’. [32 feet is 9.75m]

From The Stage Guide, 1971:
This mechanism consisted of three separate revolving drums.
Inner ring: A lift 3.66m in diameter. 

Middle ring: 5.49m in diameter
Outer ring: 9.75m in diameter. 

The outer ring was able to revolve independently of the narrower centre rings, and the middle section could be elevated above stage level.
It was heavily used in the 1991 production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

The famous drum-revolve mechanism was finally removed in January 2002, immediately after The King and I closed, to make way for the hydraulic mechanism for the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car.

Official Website: http://www.reallyusefultheatres.co.uk/our-theatres/london-palladium

Cinderella at the London Palladium as seen in 1966 (British Pathe)

Cinderella at the London Palladium as seen in 1926 (British Pathe)

Royal Variety Performance in 1969 (British Pathe)

Equipment

1971 (from The Stage Guide)
Electrics: Strand CAE board in rear of Royal Circle. Dimmers – 240 (10kW to 2.5kW); 2 presets; groups – 40 memory pistons. Circuits – FOH 74; Flies 88; Stage dips 36; Ladder booms 52. Socket type – 15A BESA, 5kW and 10kW. Total capacity available – 2700A on 3 phases (3 services). Special effects supply – 2 x 100A on 1 phase. Follow spots – 6 Stelmar in rear of Upper Circle. 
Sound: Console in rear of Royal Circle has a 20 channel mixer. 10 amplifiers x 35W. 2 tape decks. 1 turntable. Mic sockets – 60. Loudspeakers – 40 via jack field. 

Links to information about equipment at London Palladium over the years

  • Light Console (Strand)
  • C-AE - System C-AE (Strand)
  • Imagine (Arri)
  • Documents


    London Palladium - Arthur Lloyd 
    [External Website]
    From Arthur Lloyd website
    Hilary Gould at the Light Console at the Palladium (c) Alan Ashton
    Hilary Gould at the Light Console at the Palladium (c) Alan Ashton (1942)
    Click on thumbnail to enlarge
    [33kb  JPEG]
    From Alan Ashton Collection

    LSI: Oliver (January 1995)
    [6.71Mb PDF]
    From Lighting & Sound International

    LSI: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (May 2002)
    [3.57Mb PDF]
    From Lighting & Sound International

    LSI - The Wizard of Oz (April 2011)
    [4.4Mb PDF]
    From Lighting & Sound International

    Mentions of London Palladium in indexed journals

    Location


    View in Google Maps