Located in the heart of Moscow, opposite the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour (Russian: Храм Христа Спасителя) and the Kremlin, the Estrada Variety Theatre boasts breathtaking views of Moscow’s city centre. The theatre works with different theatrical genres and puts performances by different troupes, but the focus is mostly comedy. The theatre is situated on the Bersenevskaya Embankment, in the well-known House on the Embankment (built in 1931), whose residents in Soviet times were Communist Party members, senior military officials and leading scientists. The Variety Theatre moved to the House on the Embankment in 1961.
Solemn reds and stucco moldings are the predominant decorative elements in the theatre’s interior. On the foyer’s walls hang giant photographs of renowned Russian variety actors.
Many famous actors have performed on the theatre’s stage, and many well-known singers embarked on their artistic career here. Today, productions starring the theatre’s director, Gennady Khazanov, are very popular among audiences. Khazanov started his career in 1967 as a variety actor, reciting satirical monologues in mixed and later solo acts.
In 1997, Gennady Khazanov was invited to be the head of the theatre and, around the same time, director Leonid Trushkin offered him a role in The Dinner Game. This production, which premiered in 1998, has since been a great success at the Variety Theatre. It marked a turning point in Khazanov’s career; having tried dramatic acting, he broke away from the variety art, which had started to become commercialised in the 1990s. Today, Gennady Khazanov stars in theatrical productions such as A Carrot for the Emperor and My Wretched Roof.
The Variety Theatre has always existed as a theatre for “touring actors” and has never had its own troupe, according to Gennady Khazanov. Today, most of its performances are staged by other theatres (Lencom, Anton Chekhov Theatre, etc.) and are based on classical and modern works by Russian and foreign artists (Erich Maria Remarque, Viktor Pelevin and so on). According to its official website, the theatre is constantly searching for new creative ideas. Many well-known modern Russian artists perform in its productions, including G. Petrov, Gosha Kutsenko, V. Sukhorukov, Y. Menshova, E. Pronin, O. Zheleznyak, M. Politseymako, N. Grishayeva, E. Tsiganov and D. Dyuzhev.
The theatre building itself leaves much to be desired, unfortunately. Its hall, foyer and auditorium are in need major renovation. Gennady Khazanov said in an interview that when he first came to the Variety Theatre, he dreamed of transforming it in some kind of Parisian Lido. Calculations have revealed, however, that it would be much more cost-efficient to destroy the building completely rather than carry out the required renovation works. As a result, viewers in the stalls have a poor view of the stage, seats are very close to each other, and viewers complain that only half of the stage or so is visible from the side seats in the dress circle; long queues are common in the cloakroom and at the entrance to the auditorium. However, these inconveniences are not directly related to the performances, which are as popular with audiences as they have always been.
The theatre has a café, as well as bars with high tables and chairs. On the menu are the typical offerings – sandwiches, pastries, alcoholic drinks, etc. If you are driving to the theatre, make sure you arrive well in advance, as parking may be difficult. Walking from the nearby Kropotkinskaya Metro Station along the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, then taking a pedestrian bridge across the Moskva River is a much more pleasant way to get to the theatre.© 2016-2018 moscovery.com