Take in a show at this venue for theater, opera, and ballet. Seating approximately 1,550 at full capacity, Leeds Grand Theatre & Opera House regularly stages internationally renowned productions including West End and Broadway musicals, dance, and drama. Critically acclaimed companies Opera North and Northern Ballet Theatre have their residencies here at the Grand, which is widely regarded as a major milestone in Victorian theater-building. The Howard Assembly Room further down New Briggate was built at the same time as the Grand and has recently been restored and reopened as the city's leading avant-garde contemporary arts space. Expect anything from sound installations and photography exhibitions to folk gigs and spoken word events.
The Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House was built in 1878 and was designed to be a backlash to the music hall tradition. The upper classes at the time felt these pub-based establishments lowered the tone of entertainment. The theater was built on a site of approximately three quarters of an acre with a frontage on New Briggate. Construction cost a total of £62,000 and took 13 months to build. The architect, George Corson, was heavily influenced by his assistant James Robertson Watson who had been on a tour of Europe's churches and theaters. Class-conscious Victorians ensured that only those sitting in the best seats were allowed to use the theater's main entrance. All other patrons were ushered through side entrances so they were separated from people above their ranks. Parts of the theater had free-standing chairs, whereas other parts had benches. Some seating was upholstered whereas the cheapest were plain and backless. People were packed on to these benches to maximize the amount of paying customers for performances. The first performance was on 18th November 1878, a performance of William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. Famous names who have trodden the boards over the years include Julie Andrews, Felicity Kendal, Morecambe, and Wise and Laurence Olivier.
Behind the scenes
Take a tour around the Grand Theatre, a chance to see get a deeper insight into the world of drama and soak up the auditorium's atmosphere behind the scenes. You'll also learn the secrets of the Grade II listed building. Many of the design inspirations came from continental influences, in particular the Gothic, ecclesiastical spires. The exterior is in a mixture of Romanesque and Scottish baronial styles, while the interior has Gothic features such as fan-vaulting and clustered columns. The unique scene dock has one of the most complete Victorian scenic paint shops left in Great Britain and is still in use. Whether watching a performance or taking a tour around the auditorium, this historical cultural venue is an interesting attraction to enjoy in Leeds.