Southend currently has two major theatre venues: Palace Theatre and Cliffs Pavilion, which both merged to become known as Southend Theatres in 2003.
The newest and largest of the two is the Cliffs Pavilion, which opened 1964. Work on it began in the 30's but, due to the war and the Cliffs unfortunate location for the time, the building had to be left and boarded up. The Cliffs Pavilion is a Southend favourite for live entertainment and dining, with its amazing views and dramatic location looking down upon Westcliff seafront from atop the cliff. Though it may be best known for its lovably cheesy pantomimes, a number of concerts and large scale performances (even those on ice) are regularly shown at this venue.
Palace Theatre opened in 1912, originally as the Palace of Varieties (before changing its name again to the New Palace a month later). At the time, it was an enormously modern styled building and boasted the steepest theatre rake in the country. Now the Palace Theatre is a hotspot for single person or small scale shows, and a favourite tour venue for prominent stand up comedians. Regular TV comedians, such as Jimmy Carr and Russel Brand, make sure never to forget Southend on their list of tour dates.
Though the New Empire Theatre has been closed since 2008 while it seeks a new owner, it is still owed huge recognition for its place in Southend's theatrical history. Built in 1870 as a public hall, it was converted to the Empire Theatre in 1892. Three years later, the theatre burnt down to the ground and had to be rebuilt. The New Empire Theatre, as it is now known, was re-opened in 1896, bigger and grander than before. With five floors and electric lighting, it was the first of its kind to be opened in Southend.
Though there have been many theatres over the decades that have come and gone, these three are the most notable in Southend's history. Between all three theatres, Southend has seen internationally recognised acts from all over the world. Southend Theatres continue to this day to present top-notch shows that you could expect to see in London's West End and all the other greatest live entertainment venues in the country.
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