Anorak News | Apollo Theatre Collapse Triggered By Audience Being Asked To Lean Over The Balcony

Apollo Theatre Collapse Triggered By Audience Being Asked To Lean Over The Balcony

by | 20th, December 2013


THERE’S been an incident at London’s Apollo Theatre. The news media goes into overdrive.

The Times says:

Scores of theatre-goers have been injured after part of a balcony collapsed during a performance at the Apollo theatre in London’s West End. Members of the audience reported creaking noises followed by a crash as the balcony fell. People were seen being escorted from the theatre, on Shaftesbury Avenue, some of them bleeding and all plastered with dust.

London Ambulance said that about 81 people had been hurt, seven of them seriously.

The London Fire Brigade confirmed shortly afterwards that everybody trapped had been freed.

The balcony fell down at about 8.15pm, halfway through the first half of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The theatre seats 755 and was almost full.

And then some speculation:

The balcony on the third tier is considered the steepest in London, but it is not known whether it was this one that collapsed.

That fact seems to have come from the theatre’s own website:

The Apollo Theatre is built as a three galleried auditorium on four levels. The balcony on the third tier is considered to be the steepest in London, and the theatre has an overall seating capacity of 775. The four levels are split into the Stalls, Dress Circle, Upper Circle and Balcony, in a design similar to most London theatres.

Then a bit of history:

The Apollo, designed by architect Lewin Sharp for owner Henry Lowenfield, was completed in February 1901 and was the fourth legitimate theatre to be constructed in Shaftesbury Avenue. From the 1970s to the 1990s, the Apollo staged performances featuring actors including John Mills, Vanessa Redgrave, Zoe Wanamaker, Peter O’Toole and Penelope Keith. More recently, it hosted David Suchet in Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night and productions of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Richard III starring Mark Rylance.


PA-18518672 (1)


The Guardian reports:

Seven people seriously hurt after part of Shaftesbury Avenue theatre collapses during The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The collapse of part of the ceiling, which then brought down sections of a balcony, occurred at about 8pm. Part of the balcony started creaking before the collapse, and audience members assumed the noise was part of the show.

So. Not the balcony, then.



A witness says:

Theatre-goer Khalil Anjarwalla said he, his heavily pregnant wife and her parents managed to escape from the theatre safely after “kilos of concrete plummeted from the ceiling”.

“I was in the upper circle with my family when, about 45 minutes in, people started shouting and screaming. We thought it was part of the play. But the ceiling was crumbling. Within an instant the whole roof seemed to come down. We saw a lot of people completely covered in dust – I could hardly breathe. We had to get out, calmly. I remember thinking the cloud, the dust – it reminded me of those scenes from 9/11 in the aftermath of the building collapsing.”

And then this:

Andrew Howard-Smith, 68, said: “I saw the edge of the balcony come down, that’s what I saw. We were on the balcony below. In the production you had to hold on to the rail and lean over to see what was going on, and we were doing the same. Everybody must have got hold of the brass rail and just pushed it over, and then the edge came off. That was the only bit that came off, just the edge. It wasn’t the whole of the balcony, just the front 2ft.”

The Daily Mail:

‘It was like an avalanche’: Terror at West End theatre as 80 people in audience are injured after balcony collapses during performance

That number becomes:


The Mirror hears from a witness:

Sean Walsh, who was visiting the show with his girlfriend, said they were sitting in the balcony when they first spotted a group of people below them shouting to leave the theatre immediately. Mr Walsh, 41, from north London, said: “We were right up in the gods and a couple in the group below just said ‘Go!’ “We thought they were just leaving because maybe they were bored, and my girlfriend thought maybe they had seen a mouse. But then the whole of the ceiling just came down.”

Witness Steve George, 29, said:

“There was a lot of screaming, but people in our area had already sort of seen something and had started moving.”

Libby Grundy, 65:

“There was a bang, and then a huge cloud of dust. At first I thought it was a special effect. I heard somebody on the stage say, ‘Oh bloody hell’, because they must have seen it. There wasn’t any screaming. People were scared, but they weren’t screaming.”

More facts to follow…

Posted: 20th, December 2013 | In: Reviews Comment | TrackBack | Permalink