Image: Pallas Athena
From whatsonstage.com of Thursday this week:
Panto will return to The London Palladium this Christmas.
“The new socially distanced piece, Pantoland, has responded to the freshly unveiled tier rules to say that the piece will go ahead, even with the newly introduced capacity restrictions.“
“Palladium is a chemical element with the symbol Pd and atomic number 46. It is a rare and lustrous silvery-white metal discovered in 1803 by the English chemist William Hyde Wollaston. He named it after the asteroid Pallas, which was itself named after the epithet of the Greek goddess Athena, acquired by her when she slew Pallas. Palladium, platinum, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium and osmium form a group of elements referred to as the platinum group metals (PGMs). They have similar chemical properties, but palladium has the lowest melting point and is the least dense of them.
More than half the supply of palladium and its congener platinum is used in catalytic converters. Palladium is also used in electronics, dentistry, medicine, hydrogen purification, chemical applications, groundwater treatment, and jewelry. Palladium is a key component of fuel cells, which react hydrogen with oxygen to produce electricity, heat, and water.”
“Originally on the site now occupied by the London Palladium was the London home of the Dukes of Argyll; Argyll House. In the 1800s the first Earl of Aberdeen lived there until his death in 1860 when the building was demolished and the land excavated so as to build ‘Bonded Wine Cellars.’ Above these cellars, in 1870, the Corinthian Bazaar was erected as a temporary structure.”
“Walter Gibbons, an early moving-pictures manager, built the Palladium in 1910 to compete with Sir Edward Moss’s London Hippodrome and Sir Oswald Stoll’s London Coliseum. The facade (on the site of Argyll House, demolished in the 1860s, from which the pub opposite took the name The Argyll Arms), dates back to the 19th century. Formerly it was a temporary wooden building called Corinthian Bazaar, which featured an aviary and aimed to attract customers from the recently closed Pantheon Bazaar (now the site of Marks & Spencers) in Oxford Street. The theatre was rebuilt a year later by Fredrick Hengler, the son of a tightrope walker, as a circus arena for entertainments that included promenade concerts, pantomimes and an aquatic display in a flooded ring. It then became the National Skating Palace – a skating rink with real ice. However, the rink failed and the Palladium was redesigned by Frank Matcham, a famous theatrical architect who also designed the Coliseum, on the site that had previously housed Hengler’s Circus.
The theatre retains many of its original features and was Grade II* listed in September 1960. The Palladium had its own telephone system so the occupants of boxes could call one another. It also had a revolving stage.”
“When it opened with two performances on Boxing Day Monday 26 December 1910 it was described as being “one of the most magnificent places of entertainment in the world…Cosiness is…the note of the upholstery and decorations, with their warm Rose du Barry effects and general colour scheme of bright marbles and panelling of white and pink and gold. Another outstanding feature of the new hall is its extraordinary brightness. The auditorium blazes with thousands of electric lights, and broad shafts of limelight are concentrated on the stage from a dozen different angles – from the wings, the boxes, the backs of the circles, and even from the roof. Two ceiling pendant lights alone have fifty lamps apiece, every lamp of 120 candlepower. The result of these elaborate devices is that even in the most distant part of the house the entertainment can be seen to absolute perfection.” The week before opening Walter Gibbons highlighted to the visiting press that “the stage can be raised in sections by electric lifts, and it is so huge – 90 foot by 50 foot – that we can produce anything.” The safety of the audience was also of great concern to Gibbons – “The place has nineteen exits, and they are 6 foot wide, so the house can be emptied in a minute.”
As a music hall, the bar areas outside of the actual auditorium were important to the success of this new venue, hence a Palm Court, a spacious retreat at the back of the stalls running the entire width of the house was incorporated into the designs. “What I have aimed at is correctitude on the stage and the Continent in the Palm Court,” explained Walter Gibbons…
One commentator joked prior to the opening that “as an evidence of the luxury of the Palladium the management announces that a box-to-box telephone has been installed, by which occupants of one box can chat with friends in another box. Let us hope that the Palladium will never give performances as bad as this suggests!” “.
From The Era of 24.12.1910:
“…the Palm Court is of all Norwegian Rose granite which, especially, looks extremely attractive. In this Palm Court a ladies’ orchestra will play daily between performances.
The decorations are very beautiful, Rose du Barry hangings adorn the boxes, and upholstery of the same colour has been employed in the stalls, while the orchestra is enclosed by a marble balustrade, Generally speaking, the colour scheme of the walls is pink, white and gold, with coloured marbles, and certainly there is not a dull note anywhere.
The walls of the main vestibule are painted silver. Perhaps the most unique feature is the box to box telephone that has been installed. It will therefore be possible for the occupants of one box, recognising friends in another box, to enter into conversation with them.’…”