The Citizens' Theatre, 121 Main Street, Gorbals, Glasgow
Formerly - Her Majesty's Theatre - The Royal Princess's Theatre
Above - The original Citizens' Theatre frontage, and the Palace Theatre which was next door
One of the oldest Theatres in Glasgow, whose auditorium and stage, with Victorian mechanisms, survives today as the Citizens` Theatre (See below), originally opened in 1878, in the thriving Gorbals, as Her Majesty`s Theatre but changed the following year to The Royal Princess's Theatre, (the "Royal" was to counter the publicity of the redesigned Theatre Royal in Hope Street reappearing in 1879.)
Right - A Thumbnail image of the Princess's Theatre, Glasgow in 1934 - Click to see the original image.
The Theatre's owner and builder was John Morrison (of Morrison & Mason) and it was designed by the eminent architect Campbell Douglas (who with architect partner James Sellars had restyled the Scotia Variety Theatre in Stockwell Street for the Baylis family a few years earlier.)
Not a large theatre it accommodated around 1,500 people with two semi-circular balconies (only one is used today) and was operated by Harcourt Beryl, succeeded in time by his assistant Richard Waldon. Harry McKelvie was one of Waldon`s page boys and worked his way up to the top, falling heir to the successful Richard Waldon tradition. It was highly successful in staging musical comedy, variety, pantomime and Shakespearean plays.
A Theatre Token for the Princess's Theatre, Glasgow
Above - A Theatre Token for the Princess's Theatre, Glasgow - Courtesy Mark McBride who found it with a Metal Detector in 2015 - The Token was for the Gallery of the Princess's Theatre Glasgow, priced 6d, and also has the partly obscured word Rich...' on one side which could be referring to its one time Manager Richard Waldon - If you have any more information on the Token please Contact me.
McKelvie built upon the Princess`s pantomime traditions, where British records were set, and where all the titles contained 13 letters, including The Tintock Cup made famous in the 1950s under the new banner of the Citizens Theatre.
During World War 2 it became the home of the Citizens repertory started by Tom Honeyman, James Bridie and others. For more information on the Citizen's Theatre Company see below.
In 1943 the Citizen's Repertory Company opened a season at the Royal Princess's Theatre, and a programme for that season has the following details of their aims at the time.
'THE CITIZENS' THEATRE is now under way, thanks to the untiring efforts of our many friends who have assisted us with donations, advice, and publicity, but above all by joining our Theatre Society and by coming regularly to our productions. But if this great effort is to be successful, if this non-profitmaking movement to make Glasgow a genuine drama Centre, is to succeed, we require more money, more people on our Membership roll, more criticism, more cooperation from all classes and creeds, and more loyalty and devotion.
Right - A Citizens' Theatre Programme for 'The House of Regrets' by Peter Ustinov at the Royal Princess's Theatre in 1942, before the Royal Princess's Theatre was actually renamed The Citizens' Theatre.
This is not our Theatre. It is YOUR Theatre. We are merely its temporary Trustees. We are doing our best for you, without payment or reward of any kind. Are You in turn doing your best for Us?
"To be, or not to be: that is the question." The answer to that question lies with Glasgow's Citizens. London and the other cities are watching our fight. With your regular help and loyalty we can win this battle. Get the regular theatre habit! Come often to the Citizens' Theatre. It is YOUR Theatre. Paul Vincent Carroll.'
Above text in quotes is from the November 15th 1943 Citizens' Theatre Programme for 'Shadow & Substance' by Paul Vincent Caroll.
Above - The Citizens' Theatre, Glasgow during the run of 'Snow White' in 2003 - Photo M.L
On the 11th of September 1945, and after several years hosting the Citizen's Theatre Company, the Royal Princess's Theatre reopened as the Citizens' Theatre, a name it retains to this day.
The interior of the main Theatre is still that of the earlier Royal Princess's, although only one of the circles is used in the main space today, but the Facade is completely different and unless you knew the Theatre's history you would never guess how old the building really is from the outside.
Right - Three Programmes for the Citizens' Theatre in 1943, 1944, and 1945.
A Colour programme from 1947 can be seen at the excellent Glasgow Story website here
The Theatre now consists of three theatrical spaces, the Main Theatre which seats 459, the Circle Studio which seats 90 and the Stalls Studio which seats 45.
You may like to visit the Citizens' Theatre's own website here.
An announcement in February 2013 that the Citizen's Theatre is to have a major refurbishment is most welcome. There is a report on the announcement in the Herald Scotland here, and a most informative conservation report on the Theatre and its history here.
You may find the following pages from this site of interest: