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Thanks to our friends at The Grand Theatre Blackpool, we've got a FAMILY ticket for FOUR people to give away for this years spectacular Panto - Cinderella (complete with REAL LIVE Shetland Ponies on stage!)
For a chance to WIN all you have to do is enter your details here
13 June 2017
Stage at the Grand Theatre Blackpool, photo Sean Conboy
Take up a new skill for 2017 and join internationally renowned photographer Sean Conboy (seanconboy.com) for a unique Photographic Session at the 120-year-old Grand Theatre, Blackpool.
Sean has been the official photographer for The Grand for many years and his work is regularly featured in all our media as well as many international magazines.
Whether you want to learn the basics, dream of building on your existing photography skills, or are budding professional – the Photographic Sessions are the ideal master class for all levels.
These sessions are just under 5 hours and will provide you with a variety of skills needed to photograph beautiful structures and interiors. The day will begin with an introductory presentation, where Sean will use his extensive technical experience to advise you how to best capture the perfect shot. You will then have the opportunity to take pictures of The Grand’s Grade II* listed interior using Sean’s top tips with your own camera.
Sean’s career in photography spans over 30 years and includes working for the most prestigious Swedish camera manufacturers, Hasselblad. Sean has won numerous awards for his architectural images, and over the last few years he has become involved with both lifestyle and people photography for corporate reports and advertising campaigns.
Known for his use of space and light, Sean is best known for creating majestic images of large-scale interiors, as well as drawing the viewer into more intimate spaces with perfectly crafted composition and lighting.
Don’t miss the next opportunity to learn photographic skills directly from internationally renowned photographer Sean Conboy on 13 June 2017, and capture this beautiful Frank Matcham Grand Theatre with your own camera.
Photographic Session at The Grand Theatre Blackpool, 13 June 2017, from 9:45am – 2:30pm. Tickets £40
Following continued success of The Grand Theatre, Blackpool’s Play Reading Group, (which takes place on the second Saturday of every month) we are delighted to announce our 2017 dates.
On the Second Saturday of Every Month 1.30pm – 3.30pm. Saturday’s - 10 June, 8 July, 12 August, 9 September, 14 October, 11 November
Perfect for anyone who relishes reading and engaging in discussion about great titles from some of the world’s leading play writes.
This friendly group enjoy getting together and revel in discussion on the aspects of the title. They welcome new members on any date, so feel free to join at any time over the next year, you don’t have to attend them all.
Be assured of a warm welcome and a lively discussion, with no acting experience or speaking ability required!
Tickets are £3 which includes tea and biscuits. Tickets can be purchased prior to the event or on the day at the Box Office.
15 June at 10.30am
At each Friends Coffee Morning there will be a different guest speaker from either the Theatre or the world of show business.
Due to popularity please book your ticket in advance online, at the Box Office or by calling 01253 290190.
12 June at 11am
There is no theatre quite like The Grand. The published descriptions in 1894 said so, and contemporary theatregoers agree. Renowned as architect Frank Matcham’s masterpiece it has a long and lively history.
Join us for one of our Heritage Theatre Tours on Tuesday 26th January led by theatre archivists Geoff and Linda Tolson MBE. Stand on the raked stage and observe the cantilevered tiers of circles, boxes and pit - and the complete visibility of every seat in this atmospheric house.
- See the secrets of the great stage- Take in Blackpool’s hidden gem- Learn about flamboyant architect Frank Matcham- Explore the warren of staircases that lead to the stars dressing rooms and beyond
The Grand Theatre was opened on July 23, 1894, by Thomas Sergenson, Blackpool’s first successful theatrical manager.
Prices and book tickets here
8pm - Friday2 June
Welcome to the Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club at The Grand Studio - bringing the best live stand-up to Blackpool!
Each show will have 4 comics including MC Damion Larkin 'One of the country's top new comedians' BBC.
Wherever possible we'll be bringing you comedians off the telly from such shows as BBC2's Mock The Week, Channel 4's 8 Out of 10 Cats, BBC1's Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow, Have I Got News For You, and Paramount's Live at The Comedy Store.
Previously acts have included Jason Manford, John Bishop and Sarah Millican before they hit the big time. So come and see more brilliant comedians!
24-25 May at 7pm
Lytham Sixth perform Punk Rock.
The Sixth-Formers of a northern grammar school use the library as their common room. Here they are preparing for their mock A-Levels while dealing with the pressures of young adulthood. They are educated and aspire to successful futures, but we are the witnesses to the revelations of their dis-function, dislocation and hidden aggression.
Call the Box Office to book on 01253 290 190 (please mention you saw it here!) or visit www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk
27 May at 7.30pm
Breakin’ Convention, world’s biggest festival of hip hop dance theatre showcasing the very best from around the world and around the corner is coming back to Blackpool!
Curated and hosted by UK hip hop pioneer Jonzi D, this is an awe inspiring weekend of exceptional performances from world champion b-boy crews to cutting edge street dance companies – live on stage.
This year’s line-up includes South Korean super crew of poppers and b-boys Just Dance whose performance includes live Korean drumming; Canadian urban contemporary duo Tentacle Tribe; and Soweto Skeleton Movers who perform comedic contortionism fused with Pantsula, a style from their native South Africa.
Local crews include; FY Wingz- Wingz Theatre Works, Freefly Crew, Generation Movement, Urban Dance Project.
Spilling off stage and taking over the whole building, dance workshops, graffiti, DJs, and freestyle sessions make Breakin’ Convention an unforgettable experience for all the family.
Prices and book tickets here or call the box office on 01253 290190 (and please mention you saw it here!)
Sunday 28 May at 11am and 2.30pm
The Sooty Show is coming to Blackpool.
Sooty is back in a brand-new show with guaranteed giggles for the whole family! Direct from CITV, Sooty, Sweep and Soo head into town accompanied by TV’s Richard Cadell. Mr Slater has put Richard in charge of running the show but nothing is going to plan! Sooty’s magic tricks turn very messy and Sweep’s escapology act has him all tied up. Maybe Soo and her tap dancing will save the day? With special guest stars Butch and Ramsbottom.
Expect magic, music and mayhem with buckets full of audience participation. A spectacular treat for Sooty fans old and new – plus a chance to meet Richard and Sooty after the show!
Izzy wizzy let’s get busy!
Wednesday 31 May to Saturday 3 June at 7.30pm, matinee at 2pm on 1 and 3 June
Following their hit successes Legally Blonde and Hairspray Blackpool and Fylde Light Opera Company return to The Grand with 9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL.
9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL is the hilarious new musical comedy based on the hit movie, that centres on three office workers who turn the tables on their sexist boss.
Outrageous, thought provoking and even a little romantic, 9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL is about teaming up and taking care of business. Featuring original numbers from Dolly Parton’s Oscar, Tony® and Grammy Award nominated score including Backwoods Barbie, Shine Like the Sun and the original hit song 9 TO 5.
Join in the fun – sing along to 9 to 5 with Dolly, from her desk in Dollywood!
Thursday 1 June - Sunday 4 June at 9.15pm
Inspired by the ancient Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, Depart will take you on a path through the vast spaces, iconic features and intimate wooded areas of Stanley Park, transforming one of Blackpool’s most beautiful public spaces into the underworld.
Taking over the Park for just 4 days, circus artists will dance above your head, surprising you with extraordinary feats of physicality as they guide you through the space between life and death in this astonishing visual feast.
Friday 2 June at 8pm
See above for details
Tuesday 6 June at 2 and 7pm
Blackpool and The Fylde College present Medea …
Testing the limits of revenge and liberty , Euripides’ seminal play cuts to the heart of gender politics and asks what it means to be a woman and a wife… Medea’s marriage is breaking up and so if everything else…..
“Terrible things breed in broken hearts…”Led by Yaron Lifschitz, creator of some of the most highly innovative and genre-defying circus in the world, with a creative team including the electronic music legend Lapalux, DEPART brings together acrobats, aerialists, video artists and Fylde Coast community choirs and dancers for an experience like no other.
Age Guidance 11 yrs+
Thursday 8 & Friday 9 June at 7.30pm
Following the success of Sweet Charity, Little Women and Crazy for You, the third year BA (Hons) Musical Theatre students of Blackpool and The Fylde College proudly present the hit musical, the Pajama Game.
Join us in 1950’s America, where tempers fly at the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory when employees are denied a seven-and-a-half cents pay rise. Pajama Game features the show-stopping numbers There Once Was a Man, Hey There (You With the Stars in Your Eyes), Hernando’s Hideaway and Steam Heat.
Book by George Abbott and Richard Bissell. Music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. Based on the novel “7½ Cents” by Richard Bissell. This amateur production is presented by arrangement with JOSEF WEINBERGER LTD on behalf of MUSIC THEATRE INTERNATIONAL of NEW YORK.
Saturday 10 June at 1.30pm
Saturday 10 June at 7.30pm
Puccini’s Tosca is one of the world’s best-loved operas, brimming with lust, corruption and intrigue.
When the firebrand revolutionary Cavaradossi is imprisoned, Tosca is faced with an impossible choice: submitting to the desires of the sadistic chief of police, or letting her lover be executed.
Directed by award-winning Blanche McIntyre, and featuring a trio of powerful British artists for Tosca, Cavaradossi and the malevolent Scarpia, ETO’s new production is sure to be a night of passion.
Sung in Italian with surtitles
Monday 12 June at 11am
Tuesday 13 June at 9.45am
Thursday 15 June at 10.30am
Thursday 15 June to Saturday 17 June at 7.30pm, Saturday matinee at 2.30pm
A wonderful new musical adaptation of E. Nesbit’s classic story by Stephen Kingsbury and Ben Sleep.
Bobbie, Peter and Phyllis move with their mother from London to “The Three Chimneys”, a house near the railway in Yorkshire, after their father, who works at the Foreign Office, is imprisoned after being falsely accused of spying. They befriend an Old Gentleman who regularly takes the 9:15 train near their home and take care of a Russian exile, Mr Szczepansky, who is looking for his family and Jim, the grandson of the Old Gentleman, who suffers a broken leg in a tunnel.
This new production captures all the excitement and emotion of Edith Nesbit’s subtle critique of the English class system and aims to bring the delights of this literary classic to yet another generation.
Don’t miss your chance to join Bobbie, Peter and Phyllis on the adventure of a lifetime as they tell the story of how they became The Railway Children.
Tuesday 20 June to Saturday 24 June at 7.30pmMatinee on 21 and 24 at 2pm, Audio Described on 23
James Seabright presents WAITING FOR GOD by Michael Aitkens
Directed by David GrindleyStarring Jeffrey Holland and Nichola McAuliffe
Jeffrey Holland and Nichola McAuliffe star in this premiere stage production of the BAFTA Best Comedy Series nominated Waiting For God, which delighted TV audiences across several BBC series in the 1990s. This all-new script is penned by the sitcom’s creator Michael Aitkens, and directed by Tony Award winner David Grindley. The cast of nine is led by Holland and McAuliffe who has won best performance accolades in the prestigious Olivier Awards.
All the favourite characters from the original series are reimagined for 2017, facing the challenges that come with growing old disgracefully in the era of the silver surfer. At Bayview Retirement Home, battle-axe extraordinaire Diana Trent conspires with new resident Tom Ballard to give the conniving manager his comeuppance through a hilarious conspiracy with unexpectedly heart-warming results.
Sunday 25 June at 7.30pm
The music of BILLY JOEL and SIR ELTON JOHN come to life in this multimedia tribute starring the alluring voice of the PIANO MAN himself Terry Davies from the USA plus his son Nick.
Featuring a sensational World renowned 7 piece multi-talented band and amazing backing vocalists pulsing with energy, its currently one of the favourite shows on Disney Cruise Line, has performed at the Venetian Hotel in Vegas and now on its World Tour and a first for the UK.
Everyone’s favourite classics power out such as Piano Man – Your Song – Rocket Man – Candle In the Wind – Up Town Girl – Movin Out – Only The Good Die Young
Join Terry & Nick on this journey through the careers of two music icons seated behind the ebony and ivory of an instrument that will forever define the spirit of their music: THE PIANO!
Wednesday 28 June to Saturday 1 July at 7.30pm, matinee at 2.30pm on 1 July
Poulton Drama presents Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel.
In the mid-1930s, in the rural village of Ballybeg County Donegal, live the Mundy girls; five sisters united in their struggle to survive, and in their sense of family identity.
Kate, the eldest of the family, is a schoolteacher but the rest get by with piecemeal work and frugal living.
When the harvest festival of Lughnasa comes around, it is an opportunity for the girls to forget life’s cares for the briefest time and lose themselves in the joy of celebrating simply being alive…
Dancing at Lughnasa is at once heart-wrenching and heart-warming; a poignant yet inspiring portrait of a family bound together by love for each other and a refusal to let adversity quench their spirit.
Monday 13 to Saturday 18 November 2017
Direct from London’s West End where it is now in its record breaking 9th year, THRILLER LIVE returns to Blackpool following huge popular demand.
The spectacular concert created to celebrate the career of the world’s greatest entertainer goes on sale at 10am on Friday 24 March on Blackpool Grand Theatre’s website www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk
Seen by over 4 million people in over 30 countries, THRILLER LIVE continues to moonwalk around the world, taking you on a visual, audio and electrifying journey through the magic of Michael’s 45 year musical history.
Experience over two hours of non-stop hits from pop to rock, soul to disco as the cast pay homage to Jackson’s legendary live performances and innovative dance moves executed with flair, precision and passion, this is a show that you will never forget.
Expect your favourite songs delivered by an exceptionally talented cast and band, including: I Want You Back, ABC, Can You Feel It, Off The Wall, The Way You Make Me Feel, Smooth Criminal, Beat It, Billie Jean, Dirty Diana, Bad, Rock With You, They Don’t Care About Us, Dangerous and Thriller plus many more!
Thriller LIVE Grand Theatre Blackpool
Monday 13 to Saturday 18 November Monday to Thursday Evenings 7:30pm, Friday 5pm and 8:30pm, Saturday 4pm and 8pm
Call Box Office on 01253 290 190 (please mention you saw it here) or visit www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk
The Grand’s Panto for 2017/18 is CINDERELLA and will run from 5 December 2017 to 7 January 2018!
Tickets are on sale NOW! Prices and book tickets here or call the box office on 01253 290190 (and please mention you saw it here!)
The Friends of The Grand today announced that, after thirty-five years of fundraising, they have, at last, achieved their long-held ambition to return the Grand Theatre to its original architectural footprint.
When Frank Matcham, the famous Victorian theatre designer, was commissioned to create the Grand Theatre in 1893 its owner, Thomas Sergenson, briefed him to incorporate a number of small shops on Church Street into the design.
However, back in 1981, when the Friends purchased the Grade II* listed building from the then owners, EMI, these units were not included in the sale. Ever since, the Friends have been saving in a special fund for the day when it might be possible to buy them.
Well, that day has come and John Buck, Chairman of the Friends of the Grand said ‘it’s like a dream come true. We’ve been saving for this day for years; selling raffle tickets, lapel badges, holding coffee mornings and, even as recently as April we received a bequest from our long-serving Treasurer, Alan Sears, who sadly died earlier this year. It came with the specific instruction that it should only be spent of the purchase of the shops. Alan will be smiling down on us this day’.
John, who is now in his seventies, was one of the original group who raised the money to save the theatre from demolition in 1973. He, along with other passionate and dedicated Friends, cleaned, repaired and painted in their spare time to get the building back on its feet ready for its reopening and dedication from HRH The Prince of Wales in 1981.
‘We were invited to buy the shops back in the 1990s’ remembers John, ‘but, back then, the owners wanted more than a million pounds for them and we thought we’d never be able to raise that much. And we were right! Obviously, times have changed, and, thankfully, we’ve been able raise enough to buy them for less than half that price'.
When the purchase is complete, the deeds of the properties will be donated to the Grand Theatre Trust, the heritage conservation charity which owns and cares for this beautiful historic building.
Roger Lloyd Jones, Chairman of the Trust said ‘there are many, many people who have made this wonderful purchase possible and I would like to thank everyone who has helped. The theatre is now 122 years old and, as you can imagine, needs constant care and attention. We hope the shops will prove an asset to the theatre, providing a small but much-needed rental income to be re-invested in the upkeep of this precious architectural gem’.
The Friends of the Grand are a registered Charity.
Today, the Friends of the Grand still volunteer their services as Front of House staff, envelope-stuffers and runners of the theatre’s coffee stall. Last year, they provided 13,174 hours of voluntary service for the theatre at a value of £88,000.
SEPTEMBER 2016 TO MARCH 2017
The Grand Theatre, Blackpool announces an exciting new programme of shows for 2016/ 17. With an incredible line-up of drama, musicals, dance, opera, music and comedy–there’s something for everyone to enjoy at The Grand!
Grand Theatre Chief Executive Ruth Eastwood said,
“At the Grand Theatre we always strive to offer our audiences the best quality and variety of arts and entertainment, with productions as diverse as Ellen Kent’s Aida, Stickman and the Royal Shakespeare Company’s The Tempest, we hope that everyone will be able to find something that appeals to them in our autumn 2016 programme.”
Call Box Office on 01253 74 33 39 or visit blackpoolgrand.co.uk
Blackpool Grand Theatre has completed its major refurbishment project on time and on budget.
The £1m backstage project saw new rehearsal and dressing rooms created along with a new multi-use space and an open plan office suite. The project has delivered modern facilities that sit comfortably in the Grade II* listed theatre.
Blackpool Grand Theatre Trust chair, Roger Lloyd Jones, commented, “I am extremely proud of what has been delivered on a tight budget while keeping the theatre open throughout the work programme.
“Our architect, Lawrence Mcburney from Cassidy + Ashton; project manager, Shaun Ward from Blackpool Council; and contractors, Parkinsons, worked in close partnership with us to sensitively upgrade and extend our facilities.
"None of this would have been possible without the financial support of Arts Council England, Friends of The Grand, Garfield Weston Trust, and Blackpool Council.
"My thanks to our CEO, Ruth Eastwood, and her team for completing the project on time and on budget.
"We are now able to offer a variety of additional facilities to local arts organisations for meetings, functions, rehearsals and small-scale performances.”
Ambition for Excellence
Blackpool Grand Theatre is pleased to announce that its application to Arts Council England’s ‘Ambition for Excellence’ Fund has been successful. The fund has been created to stimulate and support ambition, talent and excellence in the arts, particularly outside London.
The award totals £680,000 and will be used to commission two pieces of work for the town, both of which will involve artists of international standing as well as local talent to create exciting new events in 2016 and 2017. The two new projects will be delivered by the Grand Theatre in partnership with LeftCoast.
Michael Trainor, Artistic Director of LeftCoast, said: “Winning this major national award from Arts Council England is a huge vote of confidence in Blackpool’s creative community and will bring the very highest quality creative experiences to the amazing locations and good people of Blackpool and the Fylde Coast.”
For the first piece, the partners will work with the renowned company dreamthinkspeak. dreamthinkspeak hasn’t created a new work in the North West of England since Liverpool’s Capital of Culture celebrations in 2008. The company’s highly imaginative ways of working and the amazing artistic experiences that they create will attract both locals and visitors to Blackpool.
Tristan Sharps, Artistic Director of dreamthinkspeak, said: “This is wonderful news! I’m really looking forward to my stay in Blackpool and creating a show for a secret and fantastical site at the heart of the town! As always with a dreamthinkspeak project, I will be living in the town during the creation of the show and working closely with large numbers of local residents. I’m really excited to explore and discover how the project will adapt and develop in response to this remarkable town’s past, present and future. I’ve been dreaming about this project for the last two years. This award makes the dream real and I cannot wait to crack on”.
Older readers might remember a huge King Kong strapped to the front of Blackpool Tower, and the second piece, planned for 2017, will be a re-imagining of the King Kong story, utilising multiple art forms in a variety of locations. Again working with large numbers of local artists, crafts people and residents, this project will have huge community involvement as well as great spectacle.
Alison Clark, Director Combined Arts & North, and Programme lead for Ambition for Excellence said, “This award represents a very significant moment for arts in Blackpool. This exciting internationally important programme illustrates the impact of the innovative cultural leaders in the town, and we look forward to seeing its powerful long term effects on artists and the arts infrastructure in Blackpool and beyond.”
Ruth Eastwood, CEO of the Grand Theatre (pictured) said: “We don’t want to give too much away just now. These are big and important projects that will help consolidate Blackpool’s growing reputation as a place with culture at its heart; celebrating the uniqueness of this amazing town and offering new and different artistic experiences to people, young and old. Now the hard work starts to create something really special.”
Regular Visit Fylde Coast reader Peter and his wife went on Tuesday evening to see The History Boys at the Grand Theatre.
It’s a well known play by the acclaimed playwright Alan Bennett. Set in Yorkshire in the 1980’s with a background of 80’s music and revolving around a group of male students and their teachers and Head, and a good sized cast which adds interest.
With humour and intelligence the students joust for mastery of their teachers while the teachers challenge for mastery of method. All the while sexual tensions rise between students, school staff and teachers led by the school Lothario and tester of all boundaries.
The headmaster is driven by results the teachers by their teaching styles. It certainly stretched my grey matter, debating the merit of knowledge for knowledge’s sake and knowledge for exam success. Are they bound for Oxford or Nottingham. Will their interview rehearsals help?
In the end one teacher is in a wheelchair and another perhaps died for his belief and the students declare their life paths. It’s a lot to take in and the brain needs to be working well to get the most out of it. Although maybe you just take in the characters, jokes and student humour.
It was another good night out and well attended at the lovely Grand Theatre.
The Grand Theatre, Blackpool marked the centenary of the First World War by hosting the final dates of the world premiere tour of Pat Barker’s Booker-nominated novel Regeneration from Tuesday 25 to Saturday 29 November 2014
Regular Visit Fylde Coast reader Peter and his wife visited the matinee of ‘Regeneration’.
"The play is highly rated and quite a coup for the Grand. There was a good sized audience topped up by a lot of teenagers from local schools. The play has a serious theme in a war hospital based on some truth but it also has humour. Especially from the northern lad who isn’t normal officer class and has always defied his asthma. In the background is the contrast between the relatively pleasant life in the hospital and the harsh life at the front line. Whether it encourages malingering and the complex feeling of guilt for being a survivor.
The story is well written and presented keeping the attention through a lot of clever scene and costume changes as well as convincing acting.
The two officer poets, Sigmund Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, are well known and offer insight to war poetry. As a bit of local interest Wilfred Owen in real life spent some time at Fleetwood Rifle Range.
The story hinges around Sigmund Sassoon, who has written an anti-war paper and because of friends has been declared mentally unfit rather than shot, and the doctor in charge whose job is to get the men fit to return to the front line. Also Wilfred Owen who adulates Sigmund and his poetry although it’s not fully reciprocated. The patients are a mixed selection of officers with early 20th century attitudes which are genuine belief but often appear slightly humorous now. There is emotional turmoil, men suffering from shell shock.
This play is a lot more gripping than expected and it seemed like we had travelled on a journey that kept the interest high right through.
Regular Visit Fylde Coast reader Peter and his wife review Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare at the Grand Theatre, Blackpool presented by the English Touring Theatre, 23rd October 2014
This is the first of Shakespeare’s comedies I’ve seen and a jolly, confused, caper it is with excellent acting and imaginative use of stage props. Matinee shows usually have an older audience but plays like this often have schools in the audience. Today youngish 10/11 year olds filled a large section. They really enjoyed the comic scenes and were well behaved, a credit to the schools.
This production has a 19th Century feel for the set and costume. Like many Shakespeare plays it takes a while to get your ear tuned to the 16th century dialogue. The opening scenes make good use of effects as the twins are washed ashore in a storm. The parts are introduced and for a while it seems a bit slow going. The show has a lot of lows and highs. When Mr Belch really has had too much to drink the show lifts off. The children loved these scenes of drunkenness and Mr Belch is brilliantly played.
The trick played on Malvolio that makes him appear a madman is pure mischief and we love his socks even if the lady doesn’t. The show becomes a frenzy of activity with women pretending to be men in love with men and women in love with women believing them to be men and a servant tricked into appearing mad locked in a cell. Meanwhile the Fool plays on. It was a sign of a play well done that the end scenes of the twines re-united were quite touching - something in my eye again.
Some famous lines are in this play: ‘Some are born into greatness, some achieve greatness and some have it thrust upon them’. The wonderful line ‘none can be called deformed but the unkind’ brought some giggles from the younger section of the audience and I wondered why, it is a great thought and from the year 1600. ‘If music be the food of love, play on’. All that and more in one play.
The acting by everyone is excellent, this is a top class production with a good sized cast using an interesting interpretation and props. Well worth seeing.
The Simon & Garfunkel Story was on for one night at the Grand in September and Visit Fylde Coast reader Peter and his wife went along to the show.
Not being a massive S&G fan I was wondering how they’d fill the time but thought the story could be interesting. Many stars begin their careers at a very early age, they were singing together in the early 50’s and keen on harmony.
The two actors told us the story with photos projected behind them and then burst into song. They seemed to be chosen for their look and that their voices were so like the real thing, especially ‘Garfunkel’. The Voice of an Angel said ‘Paul’ at the end, and it was true.
The show had a very decent sized audience and many who knew all the songs. Starting with their pop Everly Brothers style which the Story says they carried on by always playing an Everly Brothers song in their shows. Moving to folk in the early 60’s it was a bit of a mixed start. By Homeward Bound we were moving into friendly ground. It was written when Paul was sitting on Widnes railway station and pining for his English girlfriend and New York we were told.
‘I am a rock’ was another great song, ‘I have my books and my poetry to protect me’. The vocals and instruments were better than the records, certainly better than some of the re-mastered ultra-clean things you can buy. The show was getting into its stride and at the interval we were trying to recall what was left to play.
Actually the show hadn’t begun. ‘Hazy Shade of Winter’ what a track with that guitar riff and words of passage of time ‘look around the leaves are brown’. Mrs Robinson, we all know about that, with clips of Dustin Hoffman in the film behind.
Bridge Over Troubled Water was such a mega-album and built up in the Story, full of great tracks. Cecilia, The Boxer and one I’d forgotten that has haunted me since ‘Keep the Customer Satisfied’, an ear-worm it’s said. We were told they were tiring of each other and split a few times.
‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ seemed ambitious but ‘the voice of an angel’ delivered it without a flutter. Listening to those tracks afterwards it seems the show versions are often better, more presence in the voice and more beat. This show was one without regrets.
From opera, ballet and Shakespeare to variety, musicals and comedy giants, The Grand Theatre caters for every age, pocket and personality.
When you enter the Victorian auditorium of the Blackpool Grand Theatre you will understand what people mean by ‘the glorious Grand’.
This Frank Matcham designed masterpiece offers ornate, gilded plasterwork, baroque ceiling, cavorting cherubs and cantilevered balconies allowing every seat a clear view of the stage.
The Grade II* listed Grand Theatre celebrated its 120th Birthday on Wednesday 23 July 2014.
It first opened its doors on 23 July 1894, and still remains as one of the few surviving examples of the work of Frank Matcham.
The Grand Theatre has hosted a multitude of stars since its opening, from Lily Langtree to Michael Macintyre, Gracie Fields to Ken Dodd, Arthur Askey to Lee Evans...and the list goes on!
Photo: Sean Conboy
Over the 120 years, it's attracted the very best in award-winning touring companies, including The National Theatre, English Touring Theatre, The Royal Shakespeare Company, Opera and Ballet International and the Russian State Ballet.
As well as presenting a programme of quality drama, comedy, dance and children’s theatre, The Grand plays host to the outstanding talents of local performers from groups across Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde.
Ruth Eastwood, Chief Executive said,
“120 years on from first opening its doors, The Grand still remains at the heart of the community, offering people of Blackpool, Wyre, Fylde and the Region the very best in touring productions, as well as opportunities to participate, experience and learn through theatre.”
By the early 1960s theatres across Britain were closing due to loss of audience to television and in July 1972 the then owners, the Tower Company, applied for permission to demolish it. In its place they proposed to build a department store. However, by then, following an application to the Department of the Environment, the theatre had been listed as a Grade II* building and there had to be a full public enquiry.
Early in 1973 the Friends of the Grand was formed and after legal and financial wrangling, they, together with EMI and the local council, put together a deal involving leasing the theatre for £10,000 per annum and final purchase for £250,000.
The Grand Theatre, Blackpool is one of Britain’s premier heritage theatres. Listed Grade II*, this Matcham theatre is in the top 8 per cent of all listed buildings in England, and one of only thirty listed buildings in Blackpool. It is one of only nine large theatres listed Grade II* or above, north of London.
The Grand is owned by the Blackpool Grand Theatre Trust Limited. This organisation reopened the theatre in 1981 following the efforts of a number of committed volunteers who saved the theatre from demolition. Restoration work has continued without ever closing the theatre.
This amazing space is a wonder of restoration and revival, presenting a full range of every performing artform, as Blackpool's community theatre, Lancashire's preferred opera house and Britain's National Theatre of Variety.
The Grand Theatre was opened on July 23, 1894, by Thomas Sergenson, Blackpool's first successful theatrical manager.
Sergenson immediately dubbed the theatre 'Matcham's Masterpiece', a title that is even more merited now that there are few surviving examples of the work of Frank Matcham, the leading Victorian theatre architect who designed it.
The theatre took just nine months to build and cost Sergenson £20,000, part of which he had earned by operating two small rented theatres and from a circus that he staged for five summer seasons on the site of The Grand.
During his fifteen years at The Grand, Sergenson presented great stars like Ellen Terry, Madge Kendal, Sarah Bernhardt, Lily Langtry, F R Benson and Dan Leno. In 1909 he sold the theatre for a handsome £47,500 to the Blackpool Tower Company, who ran The Grand for the next sixty-two years.
The Grand was the first Blackpool theatre to present the two big musical hits of World War One - The Maid of The Mountains and Chu Chin Chow - and in the 1920s become noted for staging big American musicals like Rose Marie, The Desert Song and No No Nanette.
The theatre began to be used by top West End producers for British premieres and for forty years many plays and musicals were seen at The Grand 'prior to London'.
After the success of talking pictures, The Grand in the 1930s was a cinema in the winter and staged 'live' shows during the holiday season. Most famous of the 1930s' attractions was Gracie Fields, who made all her Blackpool Variety appearances from 1932 to 1938 at The Grand Theatre.
When the Tower Company began to build the new Blackpool Opera House in 1938, The Grand was returned to its role as an all-year playhouse. The first summer season show was held in 1940. It was a variety revue starring local comedian Harry Korris, who returned the following summer with a stage version of his famous Happidrome radio show.
During World War Two, Blackpool was a safe haven from German bombing and many great stars and shows came to The Grand. There were visits by Gielgud, Evans, Ashcroft, Harrison, Vivien Leigh, Flora Robson, Robert Donat, John Mills and Emlyn Williams.
In October, 1942, Noel Coward premiered and appeared in two of his plays and the prestige of The Grand continued through the 1950s, which was a glittering decade in spite of the growing impact of television. Holiday-makers of the 1950s and 1960s best remember The Grand for the highly successful summer season forces, starring comedy favourites like Arthur Askey, Thora Hird, Glenn Melvyn, Danny Ross, Hylda Baker, Freddie Frinton, Sid James and Jack Douglas.
By the early 1960s theatres across Britain were closing due to loss of audience to television. The Grand survived longer than most, thanks to the backing of the Tower Company. But the shortage of good shows, coupled with declining ticket sales, forced a policy of winter closure from 1963. Fewer big names came to the theatre, although the summer season forces continued to make money.
In the mid 1960s, the theatre was included in a town centre redevelopment plan. The result of this was that in July 1972 the Tower Company applied for permission to demolish it. In its place they proposed a department store.
By then, however, following an application to the Deparment of the Environment, the theatre had been listed as a Grade II building. Because of that, there had to be a full public enquiry.
Early in 1973 there was a meeting at a local hotel where the Friends of The Grand was formed specifically to resist the application, which by then was supported by the Local Authority.
In 1975, after years of disuse, it became obvious that the Tower Company were planning to turn The Grand into a bingo hall. After another round of legal and financial wrangling, the Friends of the Grand, together with EMI and the local council put together a deal involving leasing the theatre for £10,000 per annum and final purchase for £250,000.
After the eventual purchase of the theatre by The Grand Theatre Trust, in September, 1980, dozens of 'Friends' helped to refurbish the dressing rooms and backstage areas in readiness for The Grand's reopening in the week of Monday March 23, 1981, by Timothy West and Prunella Scales in the Old Vic production of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice.
In May 1981, the theatre had a prestigious two-week visit by the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company with their Gilbert and Sullivan repertoire, and on May 29 the ultimate theatrical honour of a Royal Variety Performance in the presence of HRH The Prince of Wales.
The audience for weekly theatre, which had dissolved during the nine-year closure of The Grand, was slowly won back and developed during the 1980s. The Grand brought Northern Ballet Theatre and London City Ballet to Blackpool on regular visits. Annual concerts by The Halle and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestras became a feature Opera appeared on the theatre's calendar of events, first by Opera 80 and now from international travelling Opera companies.
The theatre proves that, when scheduled within a varied programme of plays, dance, musicals and concerts, there is a healthy demand for the arts in Blackpool and the surrounding areas.
Adapted from "A Short History of the Grand Theatre" by Barry Band, Grand Theatre historian and Director of the Grand Theatre Trust Ltd, and "How the Grand was Saved" by A Burt Briggs (TD), Vice-President of the Grand Theatre Trust and Founder of the Friends of the Grand, published in the pamphlet "Centenary Appeal: Blackpool Grand Theatre 1894-1994".
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