Belfast Telegraph

Belfast's Grand Opera House celebrates past

By Emily Moulton

It has seen many changes since 1895 — but the ‘Laughter, Tears and Applause’ remains the same today.

As part of the new season programme at the Grand Opera House in Belfast, the venue is hosting an exhibition celebrating its colourful history.

The exhibition recalls how the much-loved venue has survived two world wars and changing tastes in the 1950s and 1960s.

Designed by the theatrical architect Frank Matcham, the theatre was a huge success from the outset, hosting a programme of opera, drama, pantomime, comedy and musicals.

By the 1920s and 1930s, variety events dominated the schedule, and during the Second World War, the venue became a repertory theatre.

With the introduction of television in the 1950s, the theatre suffered significantly and in 1972 the shutters came down.

From a derelict theatre in the 1970s it went on to become the first listed building in Belfast. The 1980s heralded a new beginning for the theatre, which culminated in a £10m extension in 2006.

Among the items on display are old posters and ticket stubs, as well as photographs of the building as it was back in 1895.

The exhibition also includes a Hall of Fame, showing many of the known and unknown performers who have played there.

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