FEATURE: The King’s Theatre Celebrates 110 years of Entertainment
The King’s Theatre first opened its doors to Glasgow audiences on 12 September 1904. 110 years on and the Grand Old Lady of Bath Street remains one of Scotland’s leading live entertainment venues.
The first ever production to grace the Kings’ stage was a play called The Cardinal by Lois N Parker starring distinguished actor E. S. Willard. The theatre continues to present top class drama as well as dance, comedy, children’s entertainment, music tributes and smash hit musicals direct from the West End, to this day.
In 1933 the legendary Half Past Eight shows were launched. A record run of 31 weeks under the top billing of Dave Willis remains unbroken in variety history. A comedy duo was born in the late 1950s with a unique sense of Glasgow humour and style – Rikki Fulton and Jack Milroy who became the legendary Francie and Josie.
Scottish comedy has become synonymous with the King’s Theatre and this year also marks 50 years since the very first pantomime, A Wish for Jamie, was performed at the historic venue. Many Scottish greats have headlined the annual Christmas panto including Stanley Baxter, Johnny Beattie, Rikki Fulton, Jimmy Logan, Gerard Kelly, Elaine C. Smith and Karen Dunbar. This year Greg McHugh joins panto regulars Gavin Mitchell and Des Clarke to dish out the traditional family fun and games in a new title for the King’s, Peter Pan.
Many Hollywood legends have trodden the King’s boards such as Katharine Hepburn (The Millionairess, 1952), Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh (The Sleeping Prince, 1953), Tyrone Power (The Devil’s Disciple, 1956) and SirMichael Caine (The Long and The Short and The Tall, 1959). In 1977 the King’s hosted The Royal Show in honour of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee where the Jackson Five performed alongside Dolly Parton.
In recent years the King’s has presented a number of Scottish Premiers including Guys and Dolls (2006), Spamalot (2010), Dirty Dancing (2011), 9 to 5 (2012) and this year Wicked broke box office records with a sold-out 4-week run becoming the highest grossing production in the King’s history when over 53, 000 tickets were snapped up. Another first for Glasgow audiences is on the horizon – The Bodyguard The Musical is set to take the King’s by storm in March 2015.
The King’s was designed by the prolific theatre architect Frank Matcham at the height of his career. Building owners Glasgow City Council bought the theatre from original proprietors Howard & Wyndham Ltd in 1967 and in 2002 the Ambassador Theatre Group took on management of the venue. Maintaining the Grade A listed building’s Edwardian style and period features with a contemporary twist to ensure customer satisfaction and allowing the venue to house large scale productions has been a top priority. Over the last few years the restoration levy has enabled significant work in the King’s auditorium including new seating on three levels, increased number of wheelchair transfer seats, a new orchestra pit, a strengthened grid as well as bar and toilet refurbishments.
James Haworth, King’s Theatre General Manager said: “I feel privileged to be working at a theatre steeped in rich history and held in high regard by so many theatre lovers. Every year without fail the King’s continues to attract top class productions with star studded line ups. In a year where we’ve smashed box office records with the Scottish Premier of Wicked and will soon be celebrating the golden anniversary of our famous panto, please join us in wishing the King’s a very happy 110th birthday. I would like to thank everyone who has helped create those magic moments of theatre and thank our audiences for their continued support.”
The King’s Theatre 2014/15 Listings
26 Aug – 20 Sep Dirty Dancing
23 Sep – 4 Oct The Full Monty
7 – 11 Oct Whingeing Women
21 – 25 Oct Sunset Song
14 – 18 Oct GLOC: Carousel
27 Oct Stones in His Pockets
28 Oct Elkie Brooks
29 Oct – 1 Nov Lee Mack – Hit The Road Mack
3 – 15 Nov Blood Brothers
18 – 22 Nov Pantheon: Jesus Christ Superstar
24 Nov Eric and Little Ern
25 Nov The Circus of Horrors
26 Nov Jackson Live in Concert
27 Nov Mercury
28 Nov Think Floyd
29 Nov Musichoir
6 Dec – 11 Jan Peter Pan
16 Jan Vampire’s Rock
26 – 28 Jan Cirque Beserk
29 Jan One Night of Elvis
30 Jan Rat Pack Vegas Spectacular
31 Jan Sing-a-long-a Frozen
3 – 7 Feb PMOS: Hairspray
9 – 14 Feb Return to the Forbidden Planet
16 – 28 Feb The Sound of Music
4 – 14 Mar The Bodyguard
22 Mar Al Murray, One Man, One Guvnor
31 Mar – 4 Apr Barnum
7 – 11 Apr Dance ‘til Dawn
29 Apr – 17 May Shrek The Musical
18 May Paul Merton Impro Chums
20 & 21 May Octonauts
23 May Magic – A Kind of Queen
1 – 6 Jun Spamalot
16 – 20 Jun Calamity Jane
Box Office 0844 871 7648 (bkg fee)
www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)