A Tribute to Siegfried & Roy at the London Palladium
On October 3, 2003, the performing careers of Siegfried & Roy came to an unexpected end when Roy Horn was severely injured in a tragic accident on stage with Montecore, one of their white tigers. The spectacular, long-running show at the Mirage Hotel and Casino closed, leaving many of Siegfried & Roy’s fans, particularly those in Europe and outside of USA, without an opportunity to say farewell and acknowledge their fantastic careers.
To rectify this, I had the idea of producing a show honoring these “Masters of the Impossible” at the world-famous London Palladium. I have produced many shows in my life, but none were more memorable (or turned out to be more challenging) than the Tribute to Siegfried & Roy.
The London Palladium
The London Palladium has been the dream of many an artist; to appear on this wonderful stage is considered by every performer to be the pinnacle of one’s career. Hundreds (if not thousands) of name acts have graced these “boards,” as they were called.
The Palladium’s location at Number 7 Argyll Street was once the home of the Duke of Argyll, which is why it bears that name. When he died, the property was pulled down and the Corinthian Bazaar was erected. This venture was not too successful. However, 145 years ago, under the supervision of Charles Hengler, there was not only a busy and successful circus in Argyll Street but also a real ice-skating rink. Following the demolition of the old circus, the London Palladium, as we know it, first opened its doors on December 26, 1910; it was built at a cost of £250,000.
Under the guidance of its first managing director Walter Gibbons and his successor Charles Gulliver (who was even more successful), the Palladium went from strength to strength. But it was the first attendance by Royalty in 1914 that set the seal on this wonderful theater. With ever-changing variety, twice and sometimes three times daily, fashions changed in the 1920s when musicals and revue shows took over.
Once George Black took over as managing director in 1928, he introduced variety with a capital “V.” Although other theaters have played host to the Royal Variety Show, the very first Royal Variety Performance took place at the Palladium in May 1930 with a star-studded cast of the day’s finest entertainers. Since then it has been home to the Royal Variety Performance on more occasions than any other theater in the UK.
The Palladium suffered some damage during World War II, but carried on, presenting variety throughout those dark days. After the war, Val Parnell took over the reins; he reupholstered all the seats, installed new carpeting, and opened his checkbook to bring over all the top Hollywood stars.
The London Palladium is now a Grade 11 listed building and seats around 2,300 people in the audience, making it the second largest seating capacity theater in London.