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Database: Alhambra Music Hall

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ACS DB Alhambra Music Hall

Back in 1954, this was the home of a scientific institute known as the Royal Panopticon of Science and Art. Apparently science was a bit of a bore for most people back then because the institute went bankrupt two years later. The building was purchased by E.T. Smith, the famous circus proprietor. He added a circus ring to the interior and for a short time, the Panopticon became the Alhambra Circus. Smith changed tactics in 1860, converting the circus to a theater and renaming the whole thing the Alhambra Music Hall.

The Alhambra was one of the first music halls in London to compete with what was considered "legitimate theatre." Rather than presenting a dramatic narrative, music hall performances were made up of multiple different acts, including singing, dancing, and magic. One show could have as many as 20 acts and run up to four hours long. Oh, those are the BEST evenings, aren't they? These performers often played in multiple music halls over the course of a single night, and would run to a carriage and speed to another hall as soon as their act was finished, just to perform it again elsewhere.

The building itself was designed by the architect T. Hayter Lewis and inspired by the Indo-Islamic architecture of British India. Lewis gave the building such distinguishing features as twin minarets, a conical roof, and a great domed rotunda.

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