The Victoria Theatre Halifax is celebrating a significant milestone this year, its 120th Birthday on Monday 8th February 2021!
The first event on Friday 8 February 1901 was a concert by the Hallé Orchestra, with ticket prices starting at just 1s. During its rich history, the venue has hosted a wide range of live performances, from rock and pop concerts, to live stand-up comedy, world-renowned ballet and opera. The annual pantomime is one of the many highlights of the theatre’s calendar, with Jack & the Beanstalk scheduled to return in December 2021.
The venue first opened as The Victoria Hall and has since had several identities. It became the New Victoria in 1964, the Halifax Civic Theatre in 1972 and then The Victoria Theatre in 1993. As well as a theatre and concert hall, the venue has been used as a cinema, a dance hall and even a venue for live televised wrestling. It is believed that the first events following both World Wars, which started to pave the way for social and economic recovery were A Grand Popular Dance with Dainty Demonstrations of Delightful Dancing on 6 December 1918 and George Ryder and the New Style Swingette Broadcasting Dance Band on 6 September 1945.
For the past 120 years the Victoria Theatre has been at the centre of arts and culture in Halifax and the wider borough, attracting audiences from across the region and artists from around the world. Some of the most famous music artists to have appeared live on stage include Shirley Bassey, The Supremes, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, The Jackson 5 and more recently, the Stone Roses, Kasabian, Steve Hackett, Michael Bolton, Gary Barlow, Florence and the Machine, Jake Bugg and The Script - the list is endless.
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Services and Communities, Cllr Jenny Lynn, said:
“I have loved going to the Victoria Theatre over the years, whether it’s taking my god daughter to the pantomime, or enjoying the wonderful performances of Handel’s Messiah there. The Victoria Theatre has been a much-loved, historic venue at the centre of our community for the past 120 years. The theatre has and continues to bring joy and togetherness to generations of residents from across the region and it makes a significant contribution to our local economy. We look forward to the venue serving future generations of theatre-goers, performers, artistes and support roles for the next 120 years”.
Tim Fagan, Venue Manager reflected that “the unique role of theatres and live performance venues as special places for playful encounter, entertainment, challenge and growth have been vital for individual and community wellbeing throughout history. The Victoria Theatre was born out of community passion, and it is this passion which sustains it today and hopefully for generations to come”.
The theatre has received some lovely birthday video messages from performers who look forward to returning to the theatre when the venue reopens. These include messages from Strictly Come Dancing stars Anton du Beke and Giovanni Pernice and multi-platinum selling vocal harmony group, The Overtones. Belinda Davids who is appearing in The Greatest Love of All has recorded a breathtaking rendition of Happy Birthday for the theatre too. Further video messages have been received from Steve Steinman, star of Anything For Love – The Meat Loaf Story, sixties stars Mike Pender MBE and Beaky, originally from Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich as well as Josh Benson and Adam Stafford who will be returning as the Comic and Dame in this year’s pantomime.
The Victoria Theatre is planning a week of games, trivia and interesting insights about the venue, across all social media platforms to celebrate its birthday, from Monday 8 February (Facebook - @VictoriaTheatreHalifax Twitter - @VicTheatre and Instagram @victheatrehx).