Another of Blackpool’s ‘Grand old ladies’ is today celebrating a big birthday.
The story of Blackpool’s Grand Theatre reads like one of the thousands of prestigious productions that have graced its famous stage and as the page turns today on it’s 125th milestone, a small faction of its most loyal followers, dignitaries and special guests will gather to celebrate its rich and wonderful history.
Meanwhile, birthday wishes have been flooding in from those quick to highlight the impact it has had on the arts scene on the Fylde coast.
The theatre has offered generations of young stars their own chance to enjoy the thrill of the stage and given plenty a taste for the entertainment industry.
Local talent to have started out in local theatre include actresses Jenna Colman and Switch-On star of 2019 Lucy Fallon.
The award-winning actress, 23, started out as a member of the Barbara Jackson theatre company.
Read more on the Grand Theatre's history: https://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/retro/blackpool-grand-theatre-125th-birthday-a-brief-history-1-9893058
Principal Lorraine Hill said: “A very happy, happy 125 birthday to the Grand Theatre – the most beautiful old lady who has given audiences so many memories over the years. We are so proud to have this beautiful theatre.”
Entertainer, comic, radio presenter and annual Pantomime star Steve Royle said: "Happy Birthday to my second home. It is always a joy and a pleasure to return to this beautiful building every Christmas and I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather perform Pantomime.
"I am so lucky to have been able to perform almost a thousand times on your wonderful stage where many a great actor, comedian and variety performer has gone before me. You have a glorious History and I'm honoured to be part of that.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all those times I've been lost in your wonderful ceiling (I don't mean the Attic, although I was trapped there once with Tom Lister during a Ghost Tour) staring at your art work and admiring your ornate plaster decorations.
Thank you also to the Charitable Trust and all those "Friends of the Grand" who ensure that The Grand Theatre continues to thrive.
"Here's to the next 125 years."
Kenny Mew, general manager at Blackpool Tower, said: “It is incredible to have two iconic landmarks like The Grand Theatre and The Blackpool Tower celebrate their 125th birthday this year.
“There is such a rich shared history between the two so it feels right to pay tribute today to the people that make it special.
“On behalf of everyo
Former headmaster of King Edward VII School in Lytham and organiser of Lytham Hall’s open air season Julian Wilde added: “I am a bit of a fan of The Grand Theatre, which is central to the whole entertainment industry in Blackpool.
“I love the way that it has such a diverse and appealing programme - local, national and international - throughout the year.
“Where else has had Sir Ken Dodd, the Moldova National Ballet, the Royal Shakespeare Company and The Blackpool Scout Gang Show as regular attractions?
“It lives up to its name as the National Theatre of Variety. My congratulations to all the Friends of the Grand who work so hard to sustain it as a centre of excellence.”
Councillor Gillian Campbell, deputy leader of Blackpool Council added: “On behalf of Blackpool Council, we would like to wish the Grand Theatre Blackpool a fantastic Happy 125th Birthday.
"This iconic venue has played host to some of the most amazing performers over its 125 years and here’s to another 125.”
But the Grand’s story has had anything but the perfect script.
There have been highs and lows, the successes and failures, troubles and strife but a lot of magic too.
It began as a rags to riches tale, a simple clerk Thomas Sergenson set out with a vision to turn showman and build his own theatre in 1894.
Such was his ambition to create his masterpiece, he secured the talents of Frank Matcham – the finest architect of the Victorian era – to fulfil his dream. Today, audiences still marvel at the intricacy of its design, for every seat in this magnificent theatre comes with a view.
As the Grand’s chief executive Ruth Eastwood, its trustees and ‘Friends of The Grand’ embark on a new era for the spectacular venue she says: “We want to talk about and to the people who have been instrumental in the past but moving the theatre forward and helping support it day after day so that we can say the first 125 years were just the beginning.”