I like to go to the theatre and usually when I go it's to see a musical. As I live in the Essex/Greater London area, close to a central line underground station, I usually choose to travel to one of London's West End theatres. The last one I visited was the Apollo Victoria.
The musical I went to see was 'Wicked.' This musical has been running at the Apollo Victoria since September 2006.
ABOUT THE APOLLO VICTORIA
The Apollo Victoria Theatre is a large theatre which is able to seat over two thousand people. I thought that although it's large it didn't really feel it and had a pleasant atmosphere.
I liked this theatre. I found that staff were both friendly and helpful. One thing I particularly appreciated was the fact that we were able to get into the foyer before the show started; we arrived at the theatre almost an hour before the show was to begin and the foyer was already bustling. It was a cold and drizzly day and so it was a pleasant change to some other theatres we have been to when you aren't allowed into the foyer or bar until nearer to the time of the show starting. We were able to use the toilets and had enough time to purchase a programme. Unfortunately we found the bar was too busy and trying to get to it made me feel a little claustrophobic.
The Apollo Victoria Theatre was opened in 1929 as a then modern state of the art cinema, designed by Ernest Walmsley Lewis. It closed in the 1970s, and then re-opened under the name, the New Victoria Theatre and then it mainly showing musicals.
Starlight Express played at The Apollo Victoria (with the theatre fully adapted with its train track) for eighteen years. The musical Wicked was first shown here in 2006.
Tickets for shows at the Apollo Victoria can be booked on-line from the theatre or agents or direct with the theatre's box office, by telephone or in person.
The theatre's website is: http://www.apollovictoriatheatre.org
I booked three tickets for the show directly with the theatre by telephone. I found the service was good and the assistant in the box office was very helpful; he seemed to be knowledgeable about which seats were the best for particular reasons and had advice about which seats were most suited for those with mobility difficulties.
I explained that I didn't wish to climb too many stairs. The assistant explained that in his opinion these seats would be the best out of all available for this performance; the view was good and there weren't many stairs to climb.
The seats cost over sixty pounds each and this was top price. There wasn't time to have the tickets posted which means no P&P costs. It's just a question of noting a reference number (and some theatres ask that you take the debit card you paid with to the theatre as proof they are yours when collecting) but in this case, when I arrived at the theatre, I simply showed the reference number to the assistant in the box office and the tickets were quickly produced.
I was pleased with our seats which were in the theatre's circle. It's unusual that this theatre has stairs leading down to the stalls and not too many to ascend to the circle. After climbing a few stairs to the circle there are more seats further up.
The theatre has two 'proper' levels, the stalls and circle. Most west end theatres have three, or even more levels.
Our seats in the circle were fairly central to the stage and a few rows back. Our view was unrestricted. Certain shows suit certain theatres and as 'Wicked' is a spectacle most seats have at least a fairly good view of the stage.
I thought the rake in this theatre was very good; better than in many London theatres. We had a very good view of the stage.
Theatre glasses were available for hire (I can't remember if they were fifty pence or one pound) but I didn't use these as find them a little annoying and we could see well enough anyway.
Our seats weren't too far away from the toilets but all the same, by the time we reached them a long queue had formed. The queue for the ladies, as always, was longer than the one for the men's.
We also found the bar too crowded both before the show and during the interval and this prevented us from purchasing a drink, instead we made do with the water, we had brought with us.
Ushers walked about selling soft drinks, savoury snacks and sweets at a hefty price.
The theatre offers the use of a cloakroom.
It has two bars on both levels and male and female toilets are located on both levels.
After the show we went to the gift shop and treated our daughter to a souvenir. The CDs, Tee shirts and souvenirs were expensive, but that always seems to be the case in theatres, particularly those situated in London's West End.
I would say that disabled access is pretty good here. The main entrance, in Wilton Road, to the foyer and booking office has steps but there is another entrance on Vauxhall Bridge Road which is accessible for wheelchair users.
The theatre has a wheelchair lift leading to the foyer bar lift and disabled toilets. Another lift leads to the circle where there are wheelchair spaces. The theatre allows up to four wheelchair spaces per performance.
There are scheduled audio described, signed and captioned performances of Wicked on some Saturdays throughout the year.
For further information on disabled access and concessions contact the box office or email- firstname.lastname@example.org
There are quite a few steps leading down to the stalls, therefore the best place for those with mobility problems definitely seems to be in the circle.
Access tickets are available for shows at this theatre; I think usually two tickets will be reduced by £10.
Disabled toilets are available.
The theatre is a few steps away from London's Victoria Station which is a mainline and underground station. The underground station is served by the Circle, District and Victoria lines.
We travelled by underground changing once to get to Victoria Station.
When exiting Victoria underground station the theatre's main entrance at Wilton Way can be seen just a few metres away. On our visit there wasn't a clear view of the theatre from here owing to building works.
Victoria coach station is close by and buses and taxis run near to the theatre too.
I was quite impressed with this theatre as views from most seating areas seem to be quite good. It's very close proximity to Victoria Station plus bus stops and taxi ranks being close by makes it easy to get to. I found staff helpful and altogether liked the Apollo Victoria.
We visited this theatre last week to see the current production of "Wicked" and found it to be entirely fit for purpose. You might find that a strange thing to say but that's really all I'm looking for from a theatre! If I've visited to see a show, all I want is for that particular show to be well-presented, for there to be loos, food and water where needed and to be able to get to and from the production when I need to! All the boxes were ticked here.
Firstly, the whole of the outside wall is decorated with an enormous "Wicked" poster and the whole of the lobby is light in bright green, leaving you in no doubt you've found the place! The location is directly outside the Victoria tube station and surrounded by restaurants which makes for a nice easy visit. Inside, the routes to your seat are clearly marked with section and seat number signs above each stairway to show you the way. Also on these signs are notices of where the toilets and bars are. The theatre is therefore easy to get around as foot traffic is fed around these two staircases and everyone knows where they're going.
Once seated, there is an average amount of leg room and it's easy to find your way out-the ushers even announce which is the best exit to use for the tube station. There are a couple of bars if you need refreshments and ushers during the interval who sell ice-cream. There is also a wide range of "Wicked"merchandise available in the lobby.
All in all a great venue for its current production.
I was under the impression that the interior decor had been created, undoubtedly at great expense, just for the current show in residence, Wicked.
However, that is inaccurate, the theatre has undergone renovations throughout some of the most artistic eras in the UK which is where the fantastic and somewhat ethereal design comes from.
The building was designed as the New Victoria 'super cinema' by E. Warmsley Lewis and W E Trent in 1929 in it's fantastic art deco style. The building is created in severe and unattractive concrete, relieved by vertical fluting to the front, and horizontal fluting to the side. The standard bore of concrete is dressed with polished marble, granite, and chrome detailing.
The cinema closed in 1975, reopening six years later as the New Victoria Theatre, with a concert by Shirley Bassey to celebrate the opening night.
For 18 years, the theatre was home to Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical, Starlight Express, for which the theatre was extensively redesigned to accommodate a complex roller skating performance arena.
The interior design colour seems to be purely coincidental, the lead character in Wicked is green skinned and the show has a green theme coursing throughout which is demonstrative of much of the story line. The green features throughout the theatre decor and really does add to the whole experience.
I can't imagine another show fitting in quite so well.
The staff at the theatre were very polite and courteous.
The concessions stands are not well placed which causes problems when queueing during intervals, the same applies to the lavatories which are not easy to access.
The building does have multiple entrances which creates some respite to the colossal amount of people entering the building for the shows.