Veteran celebrity Bruce Forsyth unveiled a commemorative plaque at the London Palladium today, 12 October 2010, to celebrate the forthcoming Centenary of the theatre.

London Palladium in 1912, courtesy of The Theatres Trust

London Palladium in 1912, courtesy of The Theatres Trust

Forsyth, 82, who has a long association with the theatre, was joined by showbiz pals and past performers at the theatre including Ken Dodd, Jason Donovan, Lesley Garrett, Michael Ball, Elaine Paige, Jonathan Pryce and Des O’Connor.

The owner of the theatre, Andrew Lloyd Webber, also unveiled plans for a major refurbishment of the venue, including rebuilding the front of house areas. “Today’s celebration is about recognising the rich history of this wonderful theatre and the fantastic performers who have graced its stage”, he said. “It is also about the beginning of the biggest programme of refurbishment and change in the Palladium’s history and I’m delighted to announce the restoration of the iconic revolving stage and plans for the complete refurbishment of the Front of House areas.”

The London Palladium has spent 100 years at the centre of Variety in Britain. Forsythe, who first played the theatre 52 years ago and presented popular TV show Sunday Night at the London Palladium, told the Guardian today that, “I started here 52 years ago as a compere, which was the plum job. You were meeting and welcoming stars from all over the world.”

He also paid tribute to the enormous popularity of the venue: “Anybody that was anybody played the Palladium. It had a worldwide name and if you played the London Palladium you had made it.”

The theatre’s exact birthday is on 26 December 2010. Designed by famous theatre architect Frank Matcham, the theatre’s first production in 1910 was a variety show and one act play called The Conspiracy.

The London Palladium is currently home to Sister Act until 30 October. Early next year Andrew Lloyd Webber’s production of The Wizard of Oz will open the theatre.

LINKS

BBC News: Andrew Lloyd Webber discusses the significance of the London Palladium