Palace Theatre



  • (1) A theater in Cambridge circus, London. It was opened in1891 by Richard D'Oyly Carte as the Royal English Opera House;the first work to be staged was Arthur Sullivan's romantic opera Ivanhoe.Following a string of commercial failures, D'Oyly Carte's dream ofa London opera house came to an abrupt end in 1892, when the theaterwas sold and renamed the Palace Theatre of Varieties.

    Stars to appear at the Palace included Marie Tempest,who performed in variety in 1906, and Maud Allan, who shed a seriesof white veils in what was then considered an erotic ballet, TheVision of Salome. Anna Pavlova, the Russian ballerina, made herLondon debut there in 1910. The following year the theater acquiredits present name and hosted the first of the Royal Command VarietyPerformances.

    Since the success in 1925 of No, No, Nanette starringBinnie Hale, which ran for 655 performances, the Palace has specializedin musicals. During World War II Cicely Courtneidge appeared withJack Hulbert in several musical comedies, while subsequent offeringshave included The Song of Norway (1946), Ivor Novello's King'sRhapsody (1949), and The Sound of Music, which ran from1961 until 1967. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Jesus ChristSuperstar logged 3357 performances between 1971 and 1980. TheRoyal Shakespeare Company's Les Misérables transferredfrom the Barbican Theatre in 1985 and ran here until 2004, when itwas replaced by Lloyd Webber's The Woman In White. Recent productionsinclude the Monty Python musical Spamalot (2006 - 09)and Priscilla Queen of the Desert - The Musical (2009 - ).

    (2) A theater on Broadway, New York, that became a legendary Mecca forvaudeville performers in the 1920s and 1930s. The ultimate ambitionof every US variety act was to 'play the Palace!' The 1800-seat theater wasbuilt and opened in 1913 by Martin Beck, manager of the Orpheum circuit.

    In 1931 the comedians Eddie Cantor and George Jessel teamedup for a record run of nine weeks, returning to top the bill in 1937.One evening during a routine together Cantor told an ad lib joke thatdrew a great laugh. Jessel quickly topped him and Cantor, at a lossfor words, took off his shoe and thumped Jessel on the head: it gotthe evening's biggest laugh. Jessel walked to the footlights and announced:

    Ladies and Gentlemen, this so-called grown-up man, whom Ihave the misfortune to be working with, is so lacking in decorum,breeding, and intelligence that, when he was unable to think of aclever retort, he had to descend to the lowest form of humour by takingoff his shoe and striking me on the head. Only an insensitive oafwould sink so low.
    Cantor strolled over and hit Jessel on the head again.

    By 1942 the Palace had begun to combine filmed newsreels andcartoons with live performances and later that year became a cinema.Vaudeville's domination of US entertainment ended that night. ThePalace briefly became a burlesque house, returned just as brieflyto vaudeville in 1950, then converted in 1965 into a 1358-seat theaterfor musical comedy. Subsequent productions have included Neil Simon's SweetCharity (1966), Betty Comden and Adolph Green's Applause(1970), Peter Stone's Woman of the Year (1981), the Disney spectacularBeauty and the Beast (1994), the disastrous vampire musicalLestat (2006), and the 2009 revival of West Side Story.