There have been Music Halls on the present site of the Victoria Palace Theatre since the 1850s. The current theatre which opened in November 1911 was designed by the architect Frank Matcham, as a music hall, and was called The Victoria Palace.
At the time opening it was said about the Victoria Palace Theatre that "in the scheme of internal treatment the main object has been to combine a maximum of comfort and convenience with a prevailing note of simplicity. The handsome entrance hall through which the visitor passes to the stalls, dress circle and boxes has walls of grey marble with embellishments of old gold mosaic and pillars of white Sicilian marble." Originally accommodating some 1,700 people, the theatre's capacity has now been reduced to just over 1,500 seats.
For the first twenty years the Victoria Place generally presented 'Variety' bills interspersed with Christmas shows. From 1929 The Victoria Palace staged a number of revues, including The Show's The Thing with Gracie Fields. During the late 1930s and early 1940s The Victoria Palace Theatre then presented a range of productions including 'legit' theatre, most notably the musical comedy Me and My Girl. Written by L Arthur Rose, Douglas Furber and Noel Gay, this musical, which introduced London audiences to 'The Lambeth Walk', opened on 16 December 1937 and remained for 1,046 performance before it closed with the outbreak of the Second World War. Such was its popularity that it was revived at this theatre in 1944 and enjoying another successful run. The musical was later revived in a revised version at The Adelphi Theatre in the 1980s.
Although the theatre scored a huge hit with Me and My Girl, it is probably best known for its association with The Crazy Gang which begun on 17 April 1947. The Crazy Gang, who had had success previously at the London Palladium in the 1930s, comprised three comic double-acts - Flanagan and Allan, Naughton and Gold, and Nervo and Know - along with 'Monsewer' Eddie Gray. Their first show here, Together Again, played for 1,566 performances and this was followed by an almost continuous run of Crazy Gang Shows - up to their last show together on 19 May 1962.
Later that same month The Black and White Minstrel Show - who had already enjoyed success on television - now brought their variety style show to the stage of the Victoria Palace. It enjoyed a run of 10 years with only a brief gap and was again briefly revived here in 1973, bring the total number of performances up to 6,464. The early 1970s also saw a run of Carry On London based on the Carry On films and featuring Sid James and Barbara Windsor in the cast. On 3 May 1978 the hit Broadway musical Annie, based on the American strip cartoon Little Orphan Annie, opened here to rave notices and continued to play for 1,493 performances during which times some 15 differant 'Annies' sung the show's most well-known song, Tomorrow. In 1982 Elizabeth Taylor made her London stage debut in the Lillian Hellman play Little Foxes which opened on 11 March and continued for a four month season. More recently the very successful musical Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story opened in 1989 and stayed for six years before it transferred to the Strand Theatre (now called Novello Theatre). Buddy was replaced by another musical bio, this time based on Al Jolson and called simply Jolson which opened in October 1995 and enjoyed a run of 17 months. This was then replaced by the rather short lived new musical based on the Edward and Mrs Simpson story called Always which opened 10 June 1997 and lasted just 6 weeks. Over the last few years the Victoria Palace Theatre has presented a number of musicals, including Annie, Fame The Musical, The Rocky Horror Show and Sweet Charity. Hopes are high that the current occupant of the theatre, Billy Elliot The Musical, will score a long run - but only time will tell!
In May 2014 it was announced that Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen, who has owned this theatre since 1991, was selling it to Sir Cameron Mackintosh. At that time Mackintosh revealed plans to close the theatre for 12 months from autumn 2016 to allow major refurbishment works to take place which would include extending the depth of the stage by 6 metres and completely refurbishing and remodeling the front of house foyers and bar areas. In a statement, the producers of the current show at the theatre, Billy Elliot, announced their intention of remaining here at the Victoria Palace up to the start of the works. But, not long afterwards it was announced that the show would close, after a run of eleven years, on Saturday 9 April 2016. The theatre is currently undergoing the promised major refurbishment and it is expected to reopen with a transfer of the sell-out Broadway hit musical Hamilton in October 2017.