17 Wilton Road, London, SW1V 1LG
Design by architect W.Lewis, the Apollo Victoria which opened as the New Victoria Cinema in 1930 had less than a glorious past. It was built at a cost of a quarter million pounds, just opposite Victoria station. Initially built as a cinema its location and size made it hard to compete with television and smaller cinemas. As a result the New Victoria Cinema closed in 1976.
W. Lewis has created the most architecturally important cinema building erected in Britain. Built with an auditorium, with a single long balcony, to seat 2,500 people the house used to be full on week end hence covering the cost for the whole week. The Art Deco interior was decorated with fish, shell and sea floral motifs, and walls of marine colours and despite many refurbishments, some of the original decor can be seen today.
Bought by Apollo Leisure (UK) Ltd, it reopened under the name of Apollo Victoria in 1981. It then became the home of few musicals such as The Sound of Music starring Petula Clark, Camelot, Dash and Fiddler on the Roof...
In 1984 the auditorium was drastically reorganised to receive Andrew Lloyd Webber's hit musical Starlight Express. Over 1000 seats were lost in order to accommodate the roller-skating ramps that spilled into the auditorium; races took place along these ramps and over a railway bridge while large video screens allowed the audience to watch their progress. In 1992, the foyer and exterior were improved for a new production of Starlight Express which ran at the Apollo Victoria for an amazing 18 years!
It was followed by another Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Bombay Dreams for which the Theatre was again refurbished and the auditorium capacity increased to 2000 seats. Saturday Night Fever dominated the Facade of the Theatres shortly after. The Apollo Victoria is now the new home of Broadway Smash Hit musical Wicked!