His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen

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His Majesty's Theatre
Aberdeen Playhouse
Playhouseaberdeen.jpg
Exterior of His Majesty's Theatre
AddressRosemount Viaduct
Aberdeen
Scotland
Coordinates57°08′53″N 2°06′18″W / 57.148°N 2.1049°W / 57.148; -2.1049Coordinates: 57°08′53″N 2°06′18″W / 57.148°N 2.1049°W / 57.148; -2.1049
OwnerAberdeen Performing Arts
DesignationCategory A listed[1]
TypeRegional theatre
Capacity1,470 seated (now)
2,300 on four levels (1906)
Current useTouring productions
Construction
Opened3 December 1906
Rebuilt2003-5 LDN Architects
ArchitectFrank Matcham
Website
www.aberdeenperformingarts.com

His Majesty's Theatre in Aberdeen is the largest theatre in north-east Scotland, seating more than 1,400. The theatre is sited on Rosemount Viaduct, opposite the city's Union Terrace Gardens. It was designed by Frank Matcham and opened in 1906. On its centenary in 2006, the theatre was "twinned" with His Majesty's Theatre in Perth, Western Australia.[2]

The granite-clad theatre is the brainchild of Robert Arthur, of Glasgow, who started his group of theatres in the 1880s focusing on Her Majesty`s Theatre, Dundee [3], and others in England. He took a lease of Her Majesty`s Opera House, Aberdeen [4] (later named the Tivoli) in Guild Street from 1891 and started to look for a site to build one according to his own specifications. His plans for Rosemount Viaduct were submitted to Aberdeen City Council in 1901, construction starting in 1904, and completed in 1906.

Now with theatres in Scotland, and in England, such as the Theatre Royal, Newcastle[5], Robert Arthur floated his new company on the Stock Exchange in 1897. He staged the whole range of plays, opera, revues and pantomimes until the company ran out of funds in 1912. At this point Michael Simons of the Theatre Royal, Glasgow[6], chairman and founder of Howard & Wyndham Ltd, became chairman of the Robert Arthur group with the Arthur theatres now to be operated under the same directors and managers of Howard & Wyndham.[7]

Robert Arthur Theatres Ltd, through Michael Simons, sold the theatre in 1923 to Walter Gilbert, managing director of the Tivoli Theatre. On his death it was bought in 1932 by Councillor James F Donald, of cinema and dance hall note. James Donald refurbished the venue and introduced features such as external neon lighting, a cinema projector and a revolving stage. Gilbert`s son and the Donald family managed it until 1939 when the ownership, programming and production passed to Howard & Wyndham Ltd (of which Peter Donald became a director) continuing until the late 1960s when Peter Donald and family bought it back.[8][9]

Aberdeen City Council bought the theatre in 1975, the Council duly allocating £3.5 million to ensure the buildings survival. After 23 months of closure the theatre was reopened in 1982 by Prince Charles.[10]

After a National Lottery grant was awarded in 1999, the theatre was the subject of a refurbishment and extension. The new glass-fronted box office, café and restaurant was designed by City Architect Trevor Smith, who also designed the award-winning Aberdeen Maritime Museum. The auditorium was completely refurbished and new seats were installed. Backstage facilities were also upgraded.

The theatre is regularly visited by Scotland's national arts companies and hosts performances from other major companies and the annual Aberdeen International Youth Festival.

The theatre is managed by Aberdeen Performing Arts, on behalf of the city council, which also runs The Music Hall, and The Lemon Tree.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Historic Environment Scotland. "Rosemount Viaduct, His Majesty's Theatre  (Category A) (LB20605)". Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  2. ^ Edi Swan: His Majesty's Theatre – One Hundred Years of Glorious Damnation (Black & White Publishing) (2006) ISBN 978-1-84502-102-3
  3. ^ http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/DundeeTheatres.htm
  4. ^ http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/Aberdeen.htm
  5. ^ http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/Newcastle/TheatreRoyalNewcastle.htm
  6. ^ http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/Glasgow/TRHope.htm
  7. ^ The Theatre Royal: Entertaining a Nation, by Graeme Smith, published 2008
  8. ^ The Theatre Royal: Entertaining a Nation, by Graeme Smith, published 2008
  9. ^ Glasgow Alhambra, by Graeme Smith, published 2011
  10. ^ http://www.aberdeenperformingarts.com/about-us/history
  • Guide to British Theatres 1750-1950, John Earl and Michael Sell pp. 2–3 (Theatres Trust, 2000) ISBN 0-7136-5688-3

External links[edit]