The Grand Theatre, Swansea
The Grand Theatre Swansea was opened on the 26th July 1897, by the internationally renowned opera singer Adelina Patti. It is a stunning building designed by the architect William Hope and built by D. Jenkins. During the early years, it was a very busy theatre for touring companies and top entertainment acts from all over the world. Famous names of the time such as Ivor Novello, Jesse Mathews, Forbes Robertson and Sir Henry Irving (the first knight of the theatre) performed at the Grand Theatre. With the decline of the vaudeville acts in the 1930s the theatre went into decline and for a 14-year period became a cinema. In the February of 1957, John Chilvers was asked to direct a six-week rep season at the Grand, those six weeks turned into 25 years in which he put on 504 plays, 20 pantomimes eight summer seasons of top variety acts, scout gang shows and many other events. In 1968 Swansea town centre was in a stage of regeneration and redevelopment, the Grand Theatre was under threat of closure as part of this redevelopment. John led the campaign to save the theatre, and thanks to great public support the theatre was saved from demolition . In 1973 John Chilvers received an MBE for his services to theatre. The Grand Theatre has been the host to so many class acts and performances over the years with well-known international entertainers and famous stars. A great tradition of the annual pantomime continues to entertain children of all ages from 1 to 100 and long may it continue to do so. Very often the pantomimes and shows would have local stars performing including some famous and well remembered entertainers such as Ryan Davies and Stan Stennett. In 1999 Katherine Zeta Jones opened the theatre’s new Arts Wing. Katherine was born in Swansea and had done much of her training in Grand Theatre. She has always remained a big supporter of the Grand Theatre and a good ambassador for Swansea.