ABOUT LEEDS GRAND THEATRE
The Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House was built in 1878 in a backlash to the music hall tradition which was thought by ‘polite society’ to lower the tone of entertainment via the sort of humour presented in these pub-based establishments.
The theatre was built on a site of approximately three quarters of an acre with a frontage on New Briggate of 56 yards, including the Assembly Rooms.
The theatre cost a total of £62,000 and took 13 months to build. The architect, George Corson, was heavily influenced by his assistant James Robertson Watson who had undertaken a tour of Europe’s churches and theatres.
Many of the design inspirations came from these continental influences, in particular the gothic, ecclesiastical spires. The exterior is in a mixture of Romanesque and Scottish baronial styles, while the interior has such gothic motifs as fan-vaulting and clustered columns.
The first performance at the theatre was Much Ado About Nothing on 18 November 1878 and stars that have trodden the boards over the years have included Sarah Bernhardt, Ellen Terry, Julie Andrews, Felicity Kendal, Morecambe and Wise and Laurence Olivier.
The Grand Theatre celebrated the 125th anniversary of its opening in 2003. It is widely regarded as a major milestone in Victorian theatre building.
Tours of the theatre are available to find out more about the history of this fascinating building.