BlueBeard – Grand Pantomime

By Antony Ramm, Librarian

‘He’s Behind You’ – Day 5 of our Heritage Advent Calendar brings us everyone’s favourite seasonal theatre – Pantomimes.

‘Bluebeard’ and the Leeds pantomime scene go back a long way. While it may not have been the first-ever panto in the town, it was certainly the first at the most prestigious theatre of its day: the Grand Theatre on New Briggate. The early management team of the Grand – including Wilson Barrett, Lee Anderson and Henry Hastings – clearly knew the appeal of the pantomime to the people of Leeds, as they were able to stage one just a few weeks after opening in November 1878, a performance which competed with yet another local showing of ‘Bluebeard’, this time at the Theatre Royal in King Charles’ Croft. While both shows were considered equally proficient in their early days, by February of the following year, it was clear that the Grand’s was the more popular – 200 people were turned away on the last weekend of January 1879, according to one report. You can see a playbill advertising the Christmas Eve showing of the performance on our Leodis archive, alongside thousands of other theatrical notices.

(c) Leeds Libraries

We’ll be back tomorrow for day 6, ‘Oh yes we will’

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