This oddity has survived many a precarious time and gone through a good half-dozen names in its time.
It was called “Crowders Music Hall” for a while in the 19th Century – there were some posters for it in the Spread Eagle Restaurant until it closed “for reburbishment.” I have no idea what happened to the posters.
From the outside, you’d think you were going into an old Music Hall – the main entrance on Crooms Hill is most theatrical, lit by dozens of classic bare bulbs, and the side entrance opens out onto a fabulously Dickensian street. So it’s curious to walk inside the theatre and find that it’s all stripped pine and laminate flooring inside. The box office and bar area, as well as a fairly perfunctory café are bright and cheery and always have a good selection of leaflets and posters about what’s going on in the area as well as the theatre itself (It’s a good place to pick up The Guide local magazine if your household is, like ours, deemed not posh enough to get it posted through the door.) The bar does good drinks but there’s not nearly enough seating, leaving most people standing before the show and during the interval.
The modern auditorium is a great size – big enough to take a nice crowd, but small enough to stay intimate. They do a range of in-house and touring shows of varying quality – but then doesn’t every theatre? It attracts a strong local following and we try to get there as often as possible. In fact we used to come here even before we even moved here officially, as part of a big group of mates who go to the panto every year. It’s a tradition amongst us now, and I usually find that a few glasses of the not-bad wine before going inside makes the jokes even funnier. Problem is that I find myself waiting for the dame/ugly sisters/behind you’s and oh no you didn’ts when I go to the serious stuff during the rest of the year.
A friend recently went to an all-night “paranormal investigation” at the theatre. I will leave him to write about his experiences on another occasion…