Built in 1878, reportedly following an off-the-cuff remark by Prince Albert that Leeds needed a good theatre as “nothing was more calculated to promote culture and raise the tone of the people”, Leeds Grand Theatre, or the ‘Grand Old Lady of Leeds’ (as she is fondly known among the locals), is the most magnificent of leading ladies.
Dressed head to toe in her finest Victorian velvet, gold leaf, ornate plasterwork, and crowned with a Waterford Crystal chandelier boasting 6389 crystals, she has welcomed the very best actors and entertainers to her (notoriously steep) stage since the directors of the company gathered the workforce in the orchestra pit on 28 May 1878 to raise a mug of beer, meat pie and three cheers to her success!
Like every titular character she has not been without her troubles, including a planned demolition in 1969 to make way for new office blocks and a multi-million pound restoration of her roof in 2016 following structural issues. But thanks to the backing and financial investment of Leeds City Council, Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, she is now the magnificent home to all types of performances (and several ghosts), including resident companies Opera North and Northern Ballet, the best of the West End and other touring productions, including world premieres of Gary Barlow and Tim Firth’s, The Girls (2015), and Kay Mellor’s Fat Friends The Musical (2017) and Band of Gold (2019), plus world-famous music and stand-up.
Grand by name, Grand by nature.