Apollo Victoria Theatre
The 2,328 seat theatre opened as a cinema in 1930. In the era of 'super' cinemas, Provincial Cinematograph Theatres (PCT) invited Ernest Walmsley Lewis to submit plans to build such a cinema a stone’s throw away from Victoria Station. Designing the venue was challenging, especially due to having two major roads running either side of it. Having two frontages was considered very severe; taxi drivers were said to have nicknamed the venue 'Sing-Sing'.
The interior is unique and a testament to art deco design. 'Imagine a fairy cavern under the sea, or a mermaid’s dream of Heaven; something one has never seen or thought of before; huge submarine flowers against the walls that branch up and out and throw mysterious light towards the realms above, and glassy illuminated stalactites hanging from the ceiling; and a proscenium like a slender host of silver trees, and silvered organ pipes that shoot up to the roof; while over the whole the lights change from deep-sea green to the colours of the dawn, and from these to the warm comfort sunlight'. Gaumont - British News
The venue has become one of the leading West End venues hosting musicals such as The Sound of Music, Camelot, Fiddler on the Roof, Starlight Express and Saturday Night Fever. Wicked has been casting its spell over audiences across the world for the last decade and continues to be a 'West End sensation' (Daily Mail) at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, where it recently played its landmark 4000th performance.
Wicked The Musical - 22nd March, 2018
Review by Claire, Amelia (12) and Charlie (9) Paye
WICKED is the winner of over 100 major international awards, including ten theatregoer-voted WhatsOnStage Awards (winning ‘Best West End Show’ on three occasions) and two Olivier Audience Awards in the UK. And I can see why. What a show! We’d all heard of Wicked but I hadn’t realised quite what such good entertainment it is. The singing was fantastic, the staging clever, the dancing entertaining, the humour at times subtle but threaded throughout the show, and the whole effect magical!
Wicked is a re-imagining of the back story to the much maligned Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz. Charlie has always disliked the Wizard of Oz, possibly because of the scary witch, but he loved the show. He was intrigued by the performances of the Good Witch and the Wicked Witch. He probably missed some of the attacks on the superficiality of beauty and the rush to judge others not like ourselves, but he picked up on most of them. Amelia loved the brilliant singing. Alice Fearn as Elphaba, the Wicked Witch, was absolutely fabulous. Her voice was incredible, the songs were meaningful, catchy and original and I was particularly impressed by the lighting (possibly because I’ve just visited an exhibition on staging, so I’m more aware of it now) and how it amplified the action.
Sophie Evans as Glinda sang some beautiful duets with Elphaba and managed to convey the deeper reflections that went on behind the superficial attention to looks that she welcomed.
It was particularly refreshing to go to a show with two strong female leads, in which the men were very much secondary characters, entertaining as they were. It was a show that celebrated friendship above romantic love and conveyed deeper thoughts about what people look for in a leader alongside light-hearted humorous asides. There were enough links to The Wizard of Oz to keep fans of the original happy, but Wicked definitely conveys the sense that there are two sides to every story, something which our ‘post truth’ world should appreciate.
The show doesn’t allow under 3s to attend and isn’t recommended for under 7s. Amelia, a fan of the theatre, particularly musicals, absolutely loved it, but the telling response was from Charlie, who is quite a sensitive soul and not a massive theatre goer, preferring, on the whole, to watch sport. Charlie absolutely loved it. So it’s a big thumbs up from us, and cleared for all ages, from 7 up. They have just released some more tickets so now is the time to book.
Apollo - Peter Pan Goes Wrong - 28th October, 2016
What to Do With The Kids reviewer Poppy Pickles took her family along to see Peter Pan Goes Wrong At the Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue.
Reviewed for What To Do With The Kids: by Poppy Pickles
What To Do With The Kids were invited to watch PeterPan Goes Wrong at the Apollo Theatre in the West End, back for a second year after a successful run last year.
What To Do With The Kids reviewer, Poppy Pickles went to see it with her two children this Autumn Half Term.
From the moment we took our seats in the traditionally ornate auditorium the theatrical disasters began. Roseanna (age 9) was baffled by 'backstage crew' members jostling loudly with faulty electrics, props falling off the wall, actors being chased to their dressing rooms and wires being passed across the whole audience. Daniel (age 11) was wise to their antics and chuckled knowingly. He didn't stop laughing for the entire evening, and Roseanna, once she'd realised it was an act, joined in too.
Brought to life by the brilliant Mischief Theatre Company, Peter Pan Goes Wrong is a play within a play based on the simple premise of everything that can go wrong, does, and with hilarious effect. A cross between a panto (despite what the 'Director' says), and a pure slapstick Laurel and Hardy-style farce, it is great family entertainment.
Apparently a staging of Peter Pan by the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, the show begins with the two 'Directors' introducing the show and setting the scene for the mayhem that is to come, as they put each other down. The story begins in the Darling children's bedroom and the traditional story unfolds, with the added complexity of the parallel story of the unravelling of the Cornley Drama Society happening on stage too. The dramas include three different actors playing Pan (due to various onstage accidents), explosions, underwear exposures, and Nana the dog getting stuck in the door. Twice.
The cast are all incredibly adept at physical theatre and the real backstage crew are invited on stage at the end in recognition of the skill all those 'mistakes' must take.
Daniel's favourite moment in the show was when Starkey the pirate, aka Robert the co-Director, (Oliver Senton) tried unsuccessfully to pick up a sword, while wearing a boat, and then, also unsuccessfully, proceeded to try to tell his mate to pick it up while speaking in a strange, incomprehensible pirate voice. He gave the show 5 stars. Roseanna's favourite moment was when Wendy and the Darling boys get wired up to fly, and then the wires simply whip their clothes off over their heads. Roseanna gave the show 4 and a half stars. From an adult's point of view, the physical gags do start to get a little repetitive, but there was enough theatrical entertainment to keep the whole family laughing till the very end of the show. A great night out in a beautiful old West End theatre.
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