OLD THEATRES magazine --- Edition 5 IS NOW AVAILABLE AS A RE-PRINT. STILL WONDERFUL VALUE at just £8.00 (includes UK postage and packing)
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
WE ACHIEVE ANOTHER NEW RECORD
IT’S GOT BIGGER, BETTER, and BRIGHTER !
Readers of Edition 5 of OLD THEATRES magazine, (the publication which cherishes Britain’s superb halls of entertainment and the artists who play them,) were delighted with the announcement that it has increased in size with more colour pages, plus over 100 illustrations. And it doesn’t just stop there ! There are now three editions each year, plus an in-between issues Newsletter providing “behind the scenes” information plus up to date developments.
At that point, the Summer 2010 edition was, positively, the very best produced so far—a great tribute to the retired authors and journalists who put it together, with the help of readers information which continues to pour in.. Together with the Patronage of Mr. Ken Dodd OBE, Mr. Duggie Chapman MBE, and Qdos Entertainment, Edition 5 is a memorable issue.
The cover, showing the restored Wakefield Opera House theatre, is quite outstanding. But we felt this theatre, where the Frank Matcham Society was formed, deserved more. So there are two very different articles about this early Frank Matcham designed theatre that escaped demolition. One is an article outlining the history of the building, with rare pictures taken during its twilight years. The second article deals with the work of drama teacher and professional actor, the late Arthur Starkie, founder of the FMS, who was honoured by cutting the cake at its centenary.
But the magazine opens with a bit of a revelation, a whole page of colour photographs revealed the entire auditorium of the London Hippodrome which had not been seen for decades. The amazing reveal took place when workmen moved in to remove false ceilings and walls inside the building from its previous uses, including its conversion to a cabaret restaurant. But there was more: The reveal showed the circus ring and water tank designed by Matcham from when the Hippodrome was first constructed as a circus,
complete with water tank. We think you will be amazed at the sight of the auditorium after being hidden away for so many years. As one of our colleagues commented: “It was like seeing theTitanic for the first time”.
Our in depth article featured the very beautiful Theatre Royal, Margate, now a fully fledged theatre again, where many artistes trod its boards, including the legendary Charlie Chaplin. There are twelve illustrations of past and present days, perfectly capturing the atmosphere of this historic hall. There are, of course, departures, which include the--soon to be demolished--Nelson Palace, featured in earlier editions. Another casualty was Wrexham Hippodrome, which bowed out by fire before its demolition. But, thankfully, photographs taken 25 years ago recall the hall in its prime. And, thanks to Warwickshire County Records Office, we can reveal the final moments of Nuneaton Hippodrome with poignant pictures taken of its final days. There are also poignant pictures of Chatham Theatre Royal which has seen its interior ripped out as it “reached the point of no return”.
Another spectacular article recalled the loss in Scotland of Dunfermline Opera House, which was abandoned in the late eighties. But, by a turn of fate it was sold and its interior was dismantled and shipped to Florida, America. The elaborate process is outlined in the magazine along with illustrations, and finally, there are colour photographs showing its resurrection as the Asola Theatre, Sarasota. Our loss is America’s gain, but, through a “special offer”, readers were able to purchase a DVD made by Talisman Films, describing artistes who played the theatre, the work entailed in removing the interior of the theatre, and its subsequent Florida re-build.
Back in Britain, Margaret Herbert, Chairman of the Friends of Doncaster Grand Theatre described how their work to save the theatre was progressing, and there are some very rare pictures of artistes who played there in its early days, which received a very high valuation on The Antiques Road Show. As we went to press, we learned of two worthy theatre enterprises—one to bring back to live Workington Opera House, and the other to add to the uses of Eastbourne Royal Hippodrome which it is hoped will become a major centre for media and performing arts, with programmes and activities for all sections of the community.
On the technical side, we learned the part played by advertising cloths in theatres, backed up with some very rare illustrations; together with an article about our theatres during the War (many of which suffered from bomb damage). Our “Sleeping Beauty” in this edition was Manchester’s Hulme Hippodrome, shown in a special colour section, while more Manchester theatres are also recalled by our historian. Of particular note were early pictures taken of entertainments on Aberystwyth Pier, and of its hidden theatre, which today has quite a different use.
Remaining in Wales, our artist’s profile is that of Britain’s famous pantomime Dame, Wyn Calvin, the Prince of Welsh Laughter, whose work on stage now spans over 60 years; while theatre manager, Leslie Irons explained how he learned the art of serrapsallism (playing the musical saw) Also included was
details of an active theatre built into a castle wall in West Sussex. It’s certainly an edition with something for everybody!
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All of us at OLD THEATRES magazine sent our warmest wishes to you, and look forward to hearing from you in support of our worthy magazine, so that Britain’s wonderful halls of entertainment can go forward to serve future generations of theatregoers