The town of Blackpool; this for me is the heart of northwest England and one of my most favourite places. I really do not know many actors who have not played here and have not loved it, although plenty of moans at the time re landladies and wages! It is especially important to me as I met my partner John here.
The town has two theatres both excellent. The Winter Gardens Opera House has been opened since 1878, this the third incarnation of the building has been around since 1939. With 3,000 seats it is one of the largest theatres in Britain. Hollywood stars and pop stars have all played there. I even remember on holiday there one time seeing the infamous Black and White Minstrels. My parents apparently drew everyone’s attention by hissing at me as I was wondering down the aisle to the stage, mesmerized at that age by the spectacle of theatre. The building is a Grade 11 listed building; it has also twice hosted the Royal variety Performance outside of London.
The second theatre in Blackpool is the Grand Theatre, known since 2006 as the National Theatre of Variety but to me it will always be the Grand! I have so many happy memories of here. Long summer seasons of over 30 weeks meant good money for an actor in his early days. I met Orville and Keith Harris here; they actually had a home locally and he was such a nice man. Keith actually holds the record at the grand Theatre for playing twice nightly to summer season capacity audiences.
I am off up to Blackpool this August as John has a student dancing in the ‘Cats’ production on at the Opera House, will be like a second honeymoon. Not been there in ten years so looking forward to seeing how the theatres are holding up. I have also booked for ‘Puttin’ on the Ritz’ while we are up there. Looking through the programme for the shows might just take another visit in October as I quite fancy An Evening with Sir Roger Moore.