Kings Theatre Glasgow
Kings Theatre Glasgow first opened its doors in 1904 and is one of the most historic and significant theatres in all of Scotland. It was built as the sister theatre for Theatre Royal for Howard Wyndham Ltd. It serves primarily as a receiving house for touring dance, musicals, comedy and acrobatic performances. While the Glasgow City Council currently owns the building, the theatre is operated by the Ambassador Theatre Group.
Kings Theatre was designed by famed architect Frank Matcham who used the building’s corner location effectively by designing two facades for the building. At the time of construction, the building cost £50,000, which would equate to £3.5 million today.
Prior to World War II, an iron canopy wrapped around the front of the building. The unique facade facing bath Street features a mix of different styles influenced by Art Nouveau and Baroque. Two two-storey pavilions are situated near the Bath Street elevation. One of these provide access to the main foyer. Female statues stood atop both pavilions but were removed during World War II to prevent them from becoming damaged. Unfortunately, the statues were misplaced and never recovered.
The design of the theatre provides seating on four levels: Gallery, Upper Circle, Grand Circle and Stalls. Matcham’s unique design of the theatre minimized the need for supporting pillars, which provides nearly all seats in the theatre with a reasonable view of the stage. The auditorium has a seating capacity of 1,785.
In 1986, the western side of the Bath Street elevation was extended to include a new office, dressing room, wardrobe room and stage door. King’s Theatre underwent another renovation in 2008 in which the interior was refurbished to restore the theatre to its former glory.
Facilities and Amenities
The King’s Theatre Glasgow offers many amenities and facilities that patrons can take advantage of, including bars.
Patrons can make their evening more memorable with the Ambassador Experience. Packages may include a drink or access to the Ambassador Lounge and savoury nibbles.
The theatre also features a new bar, The Picture Lounge. This cocktail bar is open on show evenings from 6PM and during the interval. Patrons can enjoy a glass of wine or champagne. Tables can be reserved ahead of time.
King’s Theatre Glasgow also plays host to numerous workshops throughout the year. People of all ages participate in these events, which take place nearly every week. Backstage tours are also available as well as workshops that teach guests about the productions at the theatre.
The theatre features three transfer seats and five wheelchair spaces in the rear stalls. Access is available from Elmbank Street. An infrared audio system is also equipped in the theatre for patrons with hearing disabilities. Access to this audio system can be granted via a necklace or headset. Guide and hearing dogs are also welcome in the theatre.
King’s Theatre History
Over the years, the King’s Theatre has played host to several famous shows and seen its fair share of excitement. Some of the most memorable events to take place at the theatre include:
- In the 1930s, Half-Past Eight Shows are introduced. These variety shows were a huge success and ran for 26 weeks per season.
- In 1964, the theatre saw its first panto entitled A Wish for Jamie.
- In 1977, the theatre hosted the Silver Royal Jubilee where the Queen met Sydney Devine and Dolly Parton.
- When Glasgow become the City of Culture in 1990, the opening ceremony was held at King’s Theatre.
- In 2008, renovations began on the theatre, and is scheduled to be completed in time for the Commonwealth Games in 2014.
- When the theatre first opened, patrons in the stalls were served tea during the interval.
- The spotlights originally used in the theatre would get so hot that operators would cook eggs and bacon on them.
- The two cherubs above the Proscenium Arch are affectionately known as Waly and Paley.
Over the years, King’s Theatre Glasgow’s stage has been graced by many well-known actors and artists, including Michael Caine, Katherine Hepburn, Laurence Olivier, Noel Coward, Vivien Leigh, Dolly Parton, Alec Guinness and The Jackson Five.
Getting to the Theatre
- By bus: Routes 42, 18, 44 and 57 pass by the theatre on Bath Street.
- By train: Charing Cross station between Queen Street and Patrick stations.
- By taxi: A taxi rank is located on Sauchiehall Street, but taxis are often in high demand just before and after performances.
The King’s Theatre Glasgow plays host to a number of touring shows throughout the year. The majestic design of the theatre is a big part of the reason why the venue draws in such large crowds. With views of the stage being favorable from just about every seat in the theatre, an evening at the King’s Theatre is sure to be an unforgettable one.