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17 Wilton Road, London, SW1V 1LG
Apollo Victoria Theatre
Address: 17 Wilton Road, London, SW1V 1LG
The Apollo Victoria Theatre was opened in 1930 as a cinema. Built by Ernest Wamsley Lewis and William Edward Trent, the interior was decorated in a nautical Art Deco theme with scallop shells and sculpted fountains ordaining the walls and ceilings. This theme still exists today, though it has been lit in a manner to highlight the green tones of the decoration – a nod to the Emerald City of the theatre’s current tenant, the hit musical Wicked. The theatre also contains a theatre organ that used to be play before the showings of films. The pipes of the organ are incorporated into the set design for Wicked and can be seen above the proscenium.
Named the New Victoria Cinema, films would show regularly but there was also the option to house variety acts and big bands on the theatre’s stage, which offered London audiences an eclectic mix of entertainment possibilities in one venue.
Closing during World War II though not sustaining any serious damage, the theatre reopened in May 1941 and continued to entertain well into the 1970s, finally closing in 1976. The theatre went dark for five years, reopening in 1981 as a fully-fledged theatre. Shirley Bassey was the headline act in a celebratory concert to mark the reopening of the newly named Apollo Victoria Theatre. Since then, musicals have reigned supreme, starting in 1981 with a production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music starring Petula Clark.
1984 saw the arrival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s latest smash hit, Starlight Express. The auditorium had to be completely redesigned to incorporate the production’s set design, which included race tracks through the audience and a split-level skating rink on the stage. The show was a huge success, running for 18 years. Upon its closure, the interior was restored by the architects Jaques Muir and Partners.
The hit musical Wicked has been playing at the Apollo Victoria Theatre since September 2006.
The auditorium has two levels - Stalls and Dress Circle. This is a very wide auditorium, and those at the extreme sides may suffer with sightlines, but the price of the tickets for these seats does reflect the quality. The overhang of the Dress Circle will affect the view of the top of the stage from seats in Row Y and onwards.
The Dress Circle in this theatre is very deep, and as such the last few rows of seats do feel rather removed from the action, though the view is still excellent and the spectacle of the current production is still very much apparent from these seats. The legroom is also generally very good.
Facilities At Apollo Victoria Theatre
Seat plan: Apollo Victoria Theatre Seat Plan
Infrared hearing loop
Access description: 4 steps up to the main entrance on Wilton Road. Second main entrance on Vauxhall Bridge Road via a stairlift or up 8 steps. Both entrances have highlighted steps and handrails on either side. Box Office in foyer. Stalls down 29 steps from foyer. Stairlift or 13 steps up to the Dress Circle from the foyer. Theatre opens one hour before the performance.
Sound Amplification: Induction loop and infra-red system in the auditorium.
Guide Dogs: 4 guide dogs allowed inside auditorium - aisle seats are best. Staff can also dog sit.
Disabled Access: 4 spaces for wheelchair users on either side of the Dress Circle (located a third of the way up) accessed by a platform lift in the foyer. 8 wheelchair transfer seats available in the Dress Circle.
Toilets: Men’s up 15 steps from row A of the Dress Circle. Women’s up 18 steps. Further toilets at Stalls level.
Disabled Toilets: Adapted toilet off the Foyer.
Nearest tube: Victoria
Tube lines: District, Circle, Victoria
Location: West End
Railway station: Victoria
Bus numbers: (Victoria Station) 2, 16, 36, 38, 73, 82, 170, 507, C2, C10; (Wilton Road) 24, 52, 185, 436; (Victoria Street) 44, 148, C1
Night bus numbers: (Victoria Station) 36, C2, N38, N73, N136 ; (Wilton Road) 24, N2, N16, N52; (Victoria Street) 148, N44
Car park: Semley Place (10mins)
Within congestion zone?: Yes
Directions from tube: The theatre can be se