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Theatres (other than Hippodrome/Coventry Theatre)

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heritage
Bedworth
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1 of 25  Sun 4th Dec 2011 4:31pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2011  Total posts:374

The Opera House has been mentioned as a cinema but I'm not sure if it has had a mention when it was a theatre. This is an advert placed in 1899 in the Midland Daily News (now the Coventry Telegraph). I like the mention of a late car to Bedworth. Post copied from topic Royal Opera House on 6th Apr 2016 12:45 pm
Sport, Music and Leisure - Theatres (other than Hippodrome/Coventry Theatre)
heritage
Bedworth
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Thread starter
2 of 25  Sun 4th Dec 2011 7:59pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2011  Total posts:374

The Opera House opened on March 28th 1889 with a Fred Benson's production of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. It was built for William Bennett who had two London theatres, the Shakespeare in Battersea and the Royal Duchess, Balham, by Essex and Nicol. The auditorium was built on four levels, stalls and three circles, and could accommodate 2,000 people. When the theatre first opened the stage was 30 foot deep by 70 wide, with a proscenium opening of 24 foot, which meant that it was equipped with considerable wing space for such a small stage. The theatre was altered by W.G.R. Sprague in 1898 when the auditorium's dress circle frontage was changed and further alterations were carried out to the gallery and the proscenium arch. The Opera House was damaged by bombs during the Second World War in 1940 but was reopened the following year as a cinema. It appears that there were plans to reopen the Opera House as a live theatre after the war it never happened and so it was demolished in 1961. Post copied from topic Royal Opera House on 6th Apr 2016 12:45 pm
Sport, Music and Leisure - Theatres (other than Hippodrome/Coventry Theatre)
K
Somewhere
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3 of 25  Tue 24th Jan 2012 4:00pm  
Member: Joined Nov 2011  Total posts:566

A topic I haven't seen, and a search of the forum produced no results, is the Criterion Theatre - Albany Road, wasn't it? That used to be a very active small theatre; I was wondering if it's still there.
Sport, Music and Leisure - Theatres (other than Hippodrome/Coventry Theatre)
dutchman
Spon End
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4 of 25  Tue 24th Jan 2012 4:27pm  
Member: Joined Mar 2010  Total posts:3000

Berkeley Road South, still going strong: LINK
Sport, Music and Leisure - Theatres (other than Hippodrome/Coventry Theatre)
K
Somewhere
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5 of 25  Wed 25th Jan 2012 12:09pm  
Member: Joined Nov 2011  Total posts:566

Thanks Dutchman! Wave I'm amazed it's still going strong - and pleased to hear it. I never went to it - hence getting the location wrong - but well remember the posters for it in Earlsdon. Small theatres like this can be very successful still, and certainly are a lot easier to support, with their lower running costs and more manageable ticket prices compared to the big ones. And often they will put on plays that big theatres won't, a definite plus point. Long may it continue! Thumbs up Cheers
Sport, Music and Leisure - Theatres (other than Hippodrome/Coventry Theatre)
Greenman
Cumbria
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6 of 25  Thu 26th Jan 2012 8:29pm  
Member: Joined May 2010  Total posts:53

The Criterion Theatre Company had its 50th anniversary in 2011. The company was actually formed in 1956 but their first performance in the Berkeley Road South theatre was in 1961. Throughout those 50 years the Criterion has presented a minimum of seven plays a year and has always set its sights high and maintained its artistic integrity. It has never received funding and has been entirely self-supporting, relying on bums on seats, revenue from the bar, and regular fund-raising onslaughts. I was lucky enough to be a member of the company for 15 years, during which time I was in some fine productions and made a number of very good friends, and I'm proud to have been a small part of the history of this excellent theatre.
Sport, Music and Leisure - Theatres (other than Hippodrome/Coventry Theatre)
K
Somewhere
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7 of 25  Fri 27th Jan 2012 1:29pm  
Member: Joined Nov 2011  Total posts:566

Wow - that's great, Greenman! I thought it might have been older, but for a small theatre to keep going so long is an achievement these days. I can't recall any other small theatres in Coventry when I lived there, so that makes it even better. Thank you for the info! As an aside, my wife and I were members of the Greyfriars Arts and Recreation club when we lived there, and I was amazed - and pleased - to see that that organisation is still going strong. These things so easily wither and die nowadays, don't they?
Sport, Music and Leisure - Theatres (other than Hippodrome/Coventry Theatre)
Greenman
Cumbria
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8 of 25  Fri 27th Jan 2012 5:13pm  
Member: Joined May 2010  Total posts:53

In the mid-'50s, when I started acting, there were several excellent amateur theatre companies in Coventry. They all used the Technical College Theatre, which was the base for the Midland Theatre Company, a professional company that spent one week in four at the tech. In those days, there was a show on there practically every week of the year and it was relatively easy to fill the place - if you chose the right play. Over the years most of the amateur groups disappeared until now only the Criterion and the Wheatsheaf Players remain (I don't know which of the musical companies survive). I think that perhaps there isn't the level of commitment among young people today, or that there are too many other distractions, but in my experience many clubs and societies have ageing memberships. Perhaps other members of the forum have had different experiences - I hope so, because without the kind of fanatics who are willing to turn out after a day's work and in all kinds of weather to pursue their hobbies, this country would be a poorer place.
Sport, Music and Leisure - Theatres (other than Hippodrome/Coventry Theatre)
PhilipInCoventry
Holbrooks
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9 of 25  Fri 27th Jan 2012 5:26pm  
Moderator: Joined Apr 2010  Total posts:4009

Hi Greenman Wave Correct me please, Happy but was the Wheatsheaf Players tied up with the Co-op? I was a pianist with the Wheatsheaf Orchestra in the sixties & it was the Co-op that was the main sponsor for the orchestra.
Sport, Music and Leisure - Theatres (other than Hippodrome/Coventry Theatre)
Dreamtime
Perth Western Australia
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10 of 25  Fri 27th Jan 2012 8:03pm  
Member: Joined Jan 2010  Total posts:3058

Hi Greenman, When you mentioned the Midland Theatre Company would you remember a gentleman by the name of Anthony John by any chance? The reason I asked is because I was at school with his daughter Caroline, and at that time her father was associated with the Midland Theatre Co. A few years later Caroline went into an acting career herself and appeared in a film with Kenneth More - Raising a Riot. I have also seen her in a couple of TV productions. She was a very attractive lady, she had a sister, Charlotte.
Sport, Music and Leisure - Theatres (other than Hippodrome/Coventry Theatre)
artful
lancashire
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11 of 25  Fri 27th Jan 2012 10:36pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2011  Total posts:140

Hi Greenman, my 17 year old granddaughter performs at the Criterion. Not sure if it's a school production but she has been in concerts for two or three years.
Sport, Music and Leisure - Theatres (other than Hippodrome/Coventry Theatre)
BrotherJoybert
Coventry
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12 of 25  Fri 27th Jan 2012 10:41pm  
Member: Joined Jan 2010  Total posts:118

I bumped into my old YTS drama tutor only last week on Moor Street - first time in 25 years that we had spoken in person (have corresponded via facebook). Pete Bagley, absolute legend and still heavily involved with productions at the Criterion. I live on the same road as the theatre and we're so lucky in Earlsdon to have this wonderful theatre here. Was talking to my newly adopted grandma today (you can adopt grandmas in Earlsdon) who was speaking very highly of a June Williams / Pickerell who she taught with at Stivichall Junior School. Apart from staging some stunning productions at the school June was also involved at the Criterion.
Sport, Music and Leisure - Theatres (other than Hippodrome/Coventry Theatre)
K
Somewhere
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13 of 25  Fri 27th Jan 2012 10:57pm  
Member: Joined Nov 2011  Total posts:566

Hi Greenman I'd totally forgotten the Technical College Theatre; maybe just that I was much more conscious of the Criterion's advertising posters! In the 60s I was seriously tied up with going to the Tech then the Lanchester, day release with two or three evening classes per week and a shed load of homework, it didn't leave much spare time. The issue of ageing membership with societies seems universal; we belong to a local heritage society where we live, but all the members are elderly. The one thing that does well here, and clearly likewise the Criterion, is the small theatres, probably because of the high ticket cost for mainstream theatres.
Sport, Music and Leisure - Theatres (other than Hippodrome/Coventry Theatre)
Greenman
Cumbria
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14 of 25  Wed 5th Sep 2012 5:02pm  
Member: Joined May 2010  Total posts:53

On 27th Jan 2012 5:26pm, PhilipInCoventry said: Correct me please, Happy but was the Wheatsheaf Players tied up with the Co-op?
Hi Philip, Apologies for the long delay but somehow I lost track of this thread. The Wheatsheaf Players were and still are financed by the Co-op. They have a theatre at Watersmeet Road in Wyken. I believe that the Co-op's constitution obliges it to set aside a percentage of its profits for arts sponsorship and that the Wheatsheaf Players and the orchestra and other organisations were among the beneficiaries of that policy. Many years ago, I distinctly remember seeing a songbook lying around in the Co-op offices when they were at the top of Bishop Street, entitled 'Songs for Co-operative Ladies' - the product of a mind more innocent than mine.
Sport, Music and Leisure - Theatres (other than Hippodrome/Coventry Theatre)
Greenman
Cumbria
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15 of 25  Wed 5th Sep 2012 5:17pm  
Member: Joined May 2010  Total posts:53

On 27th Jan 2012 8:03pm, Dreamtime said: When you mentioned the Midland Theatre Company would you remember a gentleman by the name of Anthony John by any chance ?
Hi Dreamtime, Yes indeed, I do remember Anthony John. He once gave me a terrible review for my performance in a Junior Drama Festival. Still, the scars have nearly healed after 57 years. I have to admit, though, that he was a fine actor and director, and was heavily involved with getting the Belgrade Theatre up and running. As you say, his daughter, Caroline, was a very successful actress (and a very attractive young woman). She was a leading player with the National Theatre for some time - though she was probably most famous as the Doctor's assistant when Jon Pertwee played Doctor Who. Sadly, she died in June this year at the age of 71.
Sport, Music and Leisure - Theatres (other than Hippodrome/Coventry Theatre)

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