Three London Theatres
Battersea Arts Centre, Palace Theatre and Hammersmith Lyric
(Photos/words © urban75, 1st February, 2007)
It's been a luvvy month for us as we've been to no less than three theatre productions in a single month. Here's some pics backed up with a bit of history. Interesting to note that no less than two of the three theatres featured here only narrowly avoided demolition in the 1960s.
Battersea Arts Centre
The Arts Centre is in a Grade II listed building which formerly served as Battersea Town Hall. Opened in 1893, the building served as council chambers for over 70 years.
Used as a recruiting station during both world wars, the building was earmarked for demolition in 1967 by some fuckwit of a planner, but thankfully protests by the local community stopped that idea in its tracks.
Battersea Arts Centre
Interior detail, Battersea Arts Centre.
Cafe/bar, Battersea Arts Centre.
Interesting bee mosaic floor in the entrance to Battersea Arts Centre.
We'd gone to see Rapunzel by the Kneehigh Theatre Company, a production described by The Independent as a, "marvellously multi-layered seasonal show.".
The audience sat around a central stage.
Illuminated cubes outside the theatre.
Located near the intersection of Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross Road at Cambridge Circus, the 1,400 capacity Palace Theatre was commissioned by Richard D'Oyly Carte in the late 1880's to a design by Thomas Collcutt.
Opening in January 1891 as the Royal English Opera, a lavish production of Arthur Sullivan's Ivanhoe saw all the stops being pulled out, but proved uneconomic.
Renamed as the 'Palace Theatre of Varieties' after Carte flogged off the building within a year, the name was finally changed to The Palace Theatre in 1911.
At the end of the last century, the theatre saw two almighty runs in the shape of Jesus Christ Superstar and Les Misérables, with the latter notching up an eighteen year run before transferring to the Queen's Theatre in April 2004. It went on to become the longest running musical in the world.
Main lobby, resplendent in marble.
View of Cambridge Circus from the Gent's second floor toilet!.
Looking down at the stage from the upper circle. We saw Monty Python's Spamalot, which won us over with its sheer enthusiasm, energy levels and outright bonkers-ness.
Modern frontage to the Hammermith Lyric theatre, London.
Cafe, Hammermith Lyric theatre.
Inside view of Frank Matcham's Victorian feast of ornate fin-de-siecle gilt and velvet. Opening in 1895, the theatre was built as an intimate opera house (the orchestra pit still exists).
In Edwardian times, the Lyric was noted for it vaudevilles, melodramas and spectacular Christmas pantomime, but by the end of the First World War its fortune had declined considerably.
The actor-manager Nigel Playfair managed to bring the Lyric back to life in the 1920s, reinventing the theatre as a fashionable venue, but by 1966 the theatre went dark.
Predictably, demolition was scheduled until public support led to a huge reconstruction and reopening of Matcham's original theatre in 1979.
Applause at the end of Kneehigh's production of Shakespeare's Cymbeline at the Hammermith Lyric.
Concrete-tastic pedestrianised area outside the theatre.
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