Theatre In Blackpool
Blackpool’s four main theatres play host to wealth of
shows, musicals and drama, making the town one of the best venues
for entertainment in the UK.
But it’s not all about today’s hi-tech theatrical gadgets
and top showbiz names, the theatres in Blackpool are also laced with
a history that has made them institutions for art in the North.
Probably the town’s most famous and finest theatre, the Grand
on Church Street, offers an array of shows, from classic acts
like Ken Dodd and Billy Pearce to performances by the English National
This theatre, in the heart of Blackpool’s bustling tourist area,
has had a difficult past since it first opened in July 1894 to much
acclaim. During the early years, the Grand welcomed huge stars such
as Lily Langtree, Ellen Terry and Madge Kendal, and became the first
theatre to present the two big musicals of the First World War, The
Maid of the Mountains and Chu Chin Chow.
In the 1920s it staged popular American musicals including Rose Marie
and No No Nanette, while top West End producers used the theatre
for premieres, with musicals being seen here before they were shown
The Grand’s success continued until the 1960s when people abandoned
their trips to the theatre in favour of staying home to watch
From 1963 the famous theatre closed its doors during the winter, but
within 10 years it was sitting unused and the owners, the Tower
Company, applied for permission to demolish it. Luckily their plan
failed and in 1981, under new owners and after a major refurbishment,
the Grand reopened with Timothy West and Prunella Scales starring
in Shakespeare's The Mercant of Venice.
Since then the Grand Theatre has hosted plenty of dramas and musicals,
such as Blood Brothers and Boogie Nights, and has once again established
itself as one of the UK’s leading theatres.
Blackpool’s oldest (despite many rebuilds) theatre is the Opera
House at the Winter Gardens [map],
which is situated just up the street from the Grand. This splendid
theatre opened with Gilbert and Sullivan's new opera Yeomen of the
Guard in June 1889, but by November 1910 it had been closed for rebuilding.
Its larger replacement was formally opened in August 1911 and was
an instant hit with locals and tourists alike. However this theatre
was demolished in 1938 to make way for the present 3,000-seat Opera
House, which boasts the biggest stage in the country.
These days the Opera House stages a huge array of concerts, comedy
nights and is the best place in Blackpool to catch touring West End
musicals, such as Cats, Summer Holiday and Grease.
Also located in the Winter Gardens complex is the Pavilion Theatre,
which has led a varied life as a theatre, cinema and conference
room. Various structural changes have been made to the venue over
the years but the Pavilion is once again being used as intended when
it was built back in the 19th century, as a theatre for plays, musicals
and dance shows.
Finally, for a more intimate theatrical experience why not visit the
North Pier Theatre [map],
which has many great acts from famous names such as, Freddie Starr,
Chubby Brown and Joe Longthorne. This theatre also plays host to cabaret
performances in the Carousel and Merrie England bars.
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