A famous venue in the West End, the Apollo Victoria Theatre is a relatively new theatre that first opened in 1930.
Architects Ernest Lewis and William Edward Trent built the theatre for Provincial Cinematograph Theatres in 1929 as part of the Gaumont British chain. The venue features ten dressing rooms, two suites for principals, as well as a 74 feet by 24 feet stage. It was listed as a Grade II building by English Heritage on 28th June 1972. What started as a cinema and variety theatre later became a stage for musical theatre in 1981 with The Sound Of Music. After, another long-running show "Starlight Express" took the spot from 1984 to 2002. As of 2020, it is home to the musical "Wicked", running it for over 13 years.
Since its construction, the building has two identical facades on Vauxhall Bridge and Wilton Roads. The entrances feature cantilevered canopies framed by vertical channelling, highlighted by simple chrome trimming. They lead into an Art Deco style nautical themed interior with sculpted fountains, enhancing the building's overall appearance.
On 15th October 1930, the Apollo Victoria Theatre opened as the New Victoria Cinema with a film based on John Galsworthy's stage play "Old English" starring George Arlis. The stage also hosted variety shows and made way for performances by big bands at times. As a cinema, the venue was among three London sites selected to play The Epsom Derby's live relay from the pre-war experimental transmissions by BBC. The theatre remained closed from September 1940 to May 1941 due to the Second World War. However, it didn't take severe damage and reopened quickly.
In the 1980s, shows like Fiddler On The Roof, Camelot and The Sound Of Music played at the theatre. Starlight Express involved roller-skating performers, for which the Apollo Victoria Theatre underwent extensive modifications to introduce a racetrack that ran through the audience. Over 18 years, the Trevor Nunn and Andrew Lloyd Webber-directed show went on for 7,406 performances. After the track's removal, architects Jaques Muir and Partners extensively restored the venue's interior. The modifications included replacing 3,500 incandescent lamps with 88,000 low-powered LEDs because the previous lamps consumed a massive amount of power and were challenging to maintain. The theatre became the first fully lit auditorium.
On 19th June 2002, Bombay Dreams premiered at the venue. The Andrew Lloyd Webber production was a creation of Indian composer/musician A. R. Rahman, featuring Don Black's lyrics, and direction by Steven Pimlott. After nearly two years, the show closed post 1,500 performances on 13th June 2004. The Saturday Night Fever musical followed it on 6th July which later closed in October 2005 to tour. The musical Wicked celebrated its 10th anniversary on 27th September 2016.