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Theatre Facts (Information from Stagefreight.com)
- There are over 1,300 active theatres in the UK, including amateur and professional venues, pop-up theatres and established institutions. The Theatres Trust’s database contains records of almost 4,000 theatre buildings; sadly, some have been demolished or repurposed.
- The Birmingham Hippodrome might not be for you. This theatre is the busiest in the UK, attracting 520,000 visitors per year.
- The smallest regularly operating theatre is the Kremlhoftheater in Austria. It opened back in 2008 and seats just eight people. The stage is 1.3m², though on the plus side all shows are free to attend.
- The Royal Albert Hall has the highest seating capacity of any London theatre. There is space for 3,901 audience members during each performance
- The best plays don’t just deal in the heavy subject matter. The original chandelier in The Phantom of the Opera weighed a ton or over 2,200 lbs! Its builders constructed it over four weeks and used 6,000 beads in its construction.
- Although the superstitions of actors are well documented, and the subject of some mockery, some are more unusual than others. London’s Palace Theatre traditionally kept two seats permanently reserved for their resident ghosts; one is, allegedly, an unknown ballerina, while the other is the Welsh actor Ivor Novello. The theatre abolished the practice after the runaway success of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
- Many theatres also leave a ghost light on stage after everyone has left for the night. Depending on who you ask, this simple light bulb is either a safety measure (e.g. to stop people falling into the orchestra pit) or a way to appease any ghosts in the area.
- The Lyceum Theatre had Irish author Bram Stoker as its acting manager during the late 1800s. Stoker would write his legendary novel Dracula during his employment. Today, the Lyceum Theatre is famous for its production of The Lion King, which has been performed over 7,500 times at the venue since 1999.
- The longest-running theatre production of all time is currently the murder mystery play The Mousetrap. First performed in 1952 in the West End, the play has been running without a break ever since. The 25,000th performance took place in 2012.
- The Intimate Revue boasts the shortest theatrical run in West End history. Performed at Westminster’s Duchess Theatre in 1930, the production closed without actually completing its first performance. According to The Telegraph, scene changes began taking up to 20 minutes apiece; managers had to scrap seven scenes so they could finish the play before midnight.
- If you’ve ever been to Shakespeare’s Globe in Bankside, you might have marvelled at its traditional structure, including its thatched roof. In fact, the Globe is the only building in London allowed to have a thatched roof. The policy dates back to the Great Fire of London in 1666, which burned for three nights and destroyed over 13,000 houses.
- If you fancy going to the theatre abroad, Vienna’s English Theatre might be what you’re after. This Austrian venue, founded in 1963, is the oldest English language theatre in continental Europe. Today it is a popular attraction for both visiting tourists and local residents.
- Few theatre productions are complete without some kind of stage machinery. The Drottningholm Theatre in Sweden is no exception; its current incarnation opened in 1766, and the stage machinery from that era is still in use today. The machinery includes a corkscrew wave machine, a thunder machine for storm sound effects, and a chariot-and-pole system, which allows for rapid scene changes.
- When it comes to rapid costume changes, nobody can beat Paul Kieve. The British illusionist organised 29 costume changes for the 2002 Cambridge Theatre production of Our House. Kieve received a Guinness World Record for his efforts.
- Visitors to Disney amusement parks are, effectively, enjoying a large-scale theatre performance. All employees of the parks are known as Cast Members, and according to WhatsOnStage, Walt Disney World has 2 million costumes in its theatrical wardrobes.
- And finally a theatre fact that’s closer to home for us. The world premiere of Northern Ballet’s Victoria took place at the Leeds Grand Theatre. The new biopic is a co-production between Northern Ballet and The National Ballet of Canada.