The Lancaster Grand Theatre is the third oldest operating theatre in England, originally built in 1782 during the reign of George III and then rebuilt in the Edwardian style in 1908 after a fire gutted the interior. Thanks to the commitment of the local amateur dramatic society the Lancaster Footlights the theatre was saved from demolition in the 1950s and their remarkable fundraising and management has made the theatre into a real asset for the local community.
The staff and regular theatregoers are proud of the theatre’s history and the many famous people who have performed there, from distinguished Victorians like Charles Dickens and Edmund Kean, right through to modern comedians such as Jimmy Carr.
The theatre is run completely independently by the Lancaster Footlights and is totally self-sufficient in terms of funding, receiving no government grants or other funding. It is a compact traditional theatre which still attracts some top acts to Lancaster, often comedians trying out new material before hitting the bigger venues in the cities and in London.
In late 2012 the Grand was chosen by ITV above many other regional theatres for the filming of “John Bishop’s Panto”, which was screened on 29th December on national TV. Despite this ‘star appeal’ the theatre managers and staff are grounded within in the Lancaster community and (for example) have recently very generously devoted the whole venue to two charities, CancerCare and the local Wolfwood Animal Sanctuary, to help them raise much-needed funds for their causes.
The Lancaster Grand Theatre is rightly proud of the wide range and variety of shows and events held right throughout the year.
Modern classic plays like Alan Bennett’s The History Boys
Charity variety concerts with something for everyone
Tribute bands including Abba Mania
Cutting-edge comedians like Chris Addison and Marcus Brigstocke
Less cutting-edge but still-funny people like Pam Ayres and Mike Harding
Musicals such as Thoroughly Modern Mille
Children’s shows including The Gruffalo’s Child
Ballet including Sleeping Beauty performed by the Vienna Festival Ballet
In some months there are more than 10 different shows - in fact you could get your Recommended Annual Intake of Culture* by just visiting the theatre once a month! [*not a recognised government guideline, although perhaps it should be]
The theatre’s own excellent website has a full list of events with timings and online booking available
Footlights Drama Group – Get Involved
Footlights is the amateur drama group which purchased the Grand Theatre in 1950 to save it from demolition, and now splits its time between creating theatrical productions and the ongoing running, maintenance and restoration of the theatre.
The group produces five plays per season including a traditional Christmas pantomime and one other family-focussed production at the Grand Theatre. They also stage up to three ‘studio’ productions per year at other small venues.
For just £10 per year for adults and £7 for juniors/students Footlights Members enjoy a full social life with organised parties, barbecues, theatre trips, play readings and other events throughout the year. A regular newsletter keep Members abreast of news and opportunities to act, build sets, create costumes, or work backstage or front-of-house. Footlights are always looking for new people with fresh ideas and talents so why not do something different and join? You'd be very welcome and would enjoy a fascinating time with some great people.
Lancaster Footlights auditions are open to anyone - you do not need to become a member until/unless you are cast. Experienced actors or beginners are all welcome. You may instead like to work backstage so if you are interested in helping with set, props or costumes, why not go along to an audition and meet the team.
The theatre has a large selection of period, pantomime and modern costumes suitable for all occasions at very competitive rates. Opening times are:
7.00pm to 8.30pm - closed if there is a show that evening; please check event schedule
10.00am to 11.30am
For specific enquiries or to make arrangements outside normal opening hours, contact Hilary on 01524 771200
For props hire (not costumes) please call Carol on 01524 734381
Please do not contact the theatre manager for costume hire as it is run as a separate department.
Fascinating tours of the 230-year-old theatre are run every few weeks on Saturdays, starting at 10.30am and lasting for 1 hour. Bookings required as places are limited, please contact the Box Office on 01524 64695. Certain parts of the tour are only accessible via stairs and steps. Tickets £5 adults, £2.50 children (1 child goes free with each paying adult).
Book a ticket for any performance online or by calling the Box Office on 01524 64695 (Mon to Sat 10am to 3pm). Credit and Debit cards are welcome and group bookings can be arranged.
We took our Grand Children to the Christmas Panto and we all had a terrific evening at a traditional pantomime. The two children were enthralled right from the start when some of the cast, especially King...