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Theatres in Streatham, London

Streatham Hill Theatre - Astoria Theatre / Odeon Cinema

Streatham Hill Theatre, 56-60 Streatham Hill

Formerly - The Streatham Hill Playhouse

The Streatham Hill Theatre during the run of 'Can-Can' on the 10th of September 1956 - Courtesy Gerry Atkins

Above - The Streatham Hill Theatre during the run of 'Can-Can' on the 10th of September 1956 - Courtesy Gerry Atkins

 

Work began on the building of the Streatham Hill Playhouse in 1928 and a Tablet was laid to commemorate the fact by Miss Evelyn Laye on September the 6th that year. Just over a year later the Theatre was finished. It was was built by W G R Sprague & W H Barton and was in fact Sprague's last Theatre to be built. The Streatham Hill Playhouse opened on the 18th November 1929.

Tablet laid by Miss Evelyn Laye to commemorate the erection of the Streatham Hill Playhouse on the 6th of September 1928 - Photo Courtesy Mark Bennett.

Above - Tablet laid by Miss Evelyn Laye to commemorate the erection
of the Streatham Hill Playhouse on the 6th of September 1928
Photo Courtesy Mark Bennett.

Detail of The Streatham Hill Theatre, from a F. Frith & Co. Ltd. Postcard dated 12th February 1954The interior of the Streatham Hill Theatre, including the proscenium, was altered in 1934 and the auditorium boasted two large cantilevered circles and a series of pretty curved fronted boxes on either side.

The circles and part of the auditorium ceiling of the Streatham Hill Theatre in July 2008 - Photo M.L.Left - Detail of The Streatham Hill Theatre, from a F. Frith & Co. Ltd. Postcard dated 12th February 1954

Right - The circles and part of the auditorium ceiling of the Streatham Hill Theatre in July 2008 - Photo M.L.

On the 3rd July 1944 the Theatre was hit by a bomb which did considerable damage to the auditorium and part of the stage. One person was killed and several were injured. Nearby property was also damaged.

Amazingly the Theatre was rebuilt to the original designs in 1950, but sadly despite this by 1962 its life as a live Theatre was over and the building was altered for Bingo use.

At the time of writing, in February 2017, Bingo has ceased at the Theatre and the building remains empty and unused, but it also remains intact and readily convertible back to live theatre use. The Theatre is one of the Country's greatest sleeping beauties and has a massive stage which could take most touring musicals.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me.

 

The Streatham Hill Theatre, from a F. Frith & Co. Ltd. Postcard dated 12th February 1954

Above - The Streatham Hill Theatre, from a F. Frith & Co. Ltd.
Postcard dated 12th February 1954

The Streatham Hill Theatre in July 2008 - Photo M.L.

Above - The Streatham Hill Theatre in July 2008 - Photo M.L.

Part of the Stage, and the proscenium and boxes of the Streatham Hill Theatre in July 2008 - Photo M.L.

Above - Part of the Stage, and the proscenium and boxes of the Streatham Hill Theatre in July 2008 - Photo M.L.

 

The Streatham Hill Theatre - A Retrospective

From a programme dated 13th January 1936

The Streatham Hill Theatre in 2006 - Courtesy Mark Bennett.

Above - The Streatham Hill Theatre in 2006 - Courtesy Mark Bennett.

Retrospective - From a programme for 'This'll Make You Whistle' at the Streatham Hill Theatre - 13th January 1936LOOKING back over 1935, the management of this theatre reviews with a pride which is surely justifiable, the great variety of first class attractions it has been possible to present to their patrons.

The auditorium of the Streatham  Hill Theatre in July 2008 - Photo M.L. By adhering to the policy of securing West End successes with West End casts, and, on occasion, sponsoring first productions of plays which could be considered sufficiently important to warrant it, they have been able to provide theatrical fare of the very best, to suit every taste, from Shakespearean tragedy to musical comedy. During the past twelve months, nearly every star of theatreland has visited this theatre.

 

Above left - The auditorium of the Streatham
Hill Theatre in July 2008 - Photo M.L.

Programme for 'This'll Make You Whistle' at the Streatham Hill Theatre - 13th January 1936Here is a list selected at random from the file of programmes during 1935 : Marie Tempest, who celebrated her fifty years' Jubilee on the stage; Jack Buchanan and Elsie Randolph, who also open up the 1936 season; Ivor Novello, appearing in his own plays; Lilian Braithwaite, Owen Nares, Fay Compton, Edna Best, Gladys Cooper, Raymond Massey, George Robey, Alice Delysia, Leslie Henson, Lupino Lane, George Graves, Laddie Cliff, Renee Houston, Binnie Hale, Edith Evans, John Gielgud, Marion Lorne, Gordon Harker, Godfrey Tearle, Marie Ney, Joseph Hislop, Irene Vanbrugh, Dorothy Dickson, Arthur Riscoe, Charlotte Greenwood, Hermione Baddeley, Flora Robson, Jeanne de Casalis and Vivian Leigh, the most glamorous newly discovered star of 1935.

 

Programme for 'This'll Make You Whistle' at the Streatham Hill Theatre - 13th January 1936Programme for 'This'll Make You Whistle' at the Streatham Hill Theatre - 13th January 1936Of the productions which brought these brilliant personalities to this theatre, may be mentioned such musical comedies as "Mr. Whittington," "Yes, Madam ?" and "Gay Deceivers"; such representatives of historical drama as "Clive of India" and "Viceroy Sarah"; examples of dramatic comedy in "Theatre Royal" and "Murder in Mayfair." J. B. Priestley supplied that fine play Eden End," and Gertrude Jennings her inimitable "Family Affairs."

Above Left and Right - Programme for 'This'll Make You Whistle' at the Streatham Hill Theatre - 13th January 1936

The classics were represented by John Gielgud's production of "Hamlet," unanimously acclaimed as unparalleled in our time. Sophisticated comedy found a place in "The Greeks had a Word for It," and the delightful "Mask of Virtue," and it was possible to secure for Streatham Hill Theatre the spectacular revues "Streamline" and "Stop Press," and the gigantic production of "Glamorous Night" from Drury Lane Theatre.

Three productions which were first staged at this theatre "Twenty to One," "Vicky" and "Mary Tudor" were successfully launched in the West End.

 

The rear and side elevations of the Streatham Hill Theatre on the corner of Barrhill Road and Blairderry Road in July 2008 - Photo M.L.

Above - The rear and side elevations of the Streatham Hill Theatre on the corner of Barrhill Road and Blairderry Road in July 2008 - Photo M.L.

 

Programme for 'Ruth Draper' at the Streatham Hill Theatre May 8th 1933Programme for 'Ruth Draper' at the Streatham Hill Theatre May 8th 1933The year, which was brought to such a happy conclusion with the first presentation of Jack Buchanan's new musical comedy, has convinced the management that the policy they have adopted is the most satisfactory for their patrons, and they trust that by continuing to give such support as that they have received throughout the past twelve months-for which they thank you-you will enable them to carry it out with equal success this year.

Above Left and Right - Programme details for 'Ruth Draper' at the Streatham Hill Theatre May 8th 1933

No other theatre has been able to offer its patrons so comprehensive a range of theatrical entertainment, and it is intended to extend this range still further in the next presentation, when Mr. Jack Buchanan leads the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, in a Gilbert and Sullivan repertoire.

Above Text from a programme for the Streatham Hill Theatre 13th January 1936.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me.

 

The Astoria Theatre, 47-49 Streatham High Road, Streatham

Later - The Odeon Cinema

The former Astoria Theatre, Streatham, now the Odeon, in a photograph take in July 2008 - Photo M.L.

Above - The former Astoria Theatre, Streatham, now the Odeon, in a photograph take in July 2008 - Photo M.L.

The Odeon, Streatham was originally built by Edward Albert Stone as a Super Cinema with a single giant screen, and opened as the Astoria Theatre on the 30th of June 1930 with the Film 'Paris' and a huge Variety Show.

The Theatre was the third of four Astoria Theatres to be built in London for the independent film exhibitor, Arthur Segal, the first of which was the Astoria, Brixton, Segal then went on to build the Astoria, Old Kent Road, which has since been demolished; the Astoria in Streatham which is now an Odeon Cinema; and the Finsbury Park Astoria, which has since been converted into a church. Stone also built the former Astoria Theatre in Charing Cross Road and the Astoria, Brighton.

The exterior of this Astoria was in the modern style but the auditorium, which could seat some 2,614 people in comfort, was in an Egyptian style, although the ceiling was partly in the Atmospheric style, like the three other London Astorias by Segal. The Streatham Astoria interior was designed by Marc-Henri & G. Laverdet who also designed the other three auditoria as well.

The Theatre had a fully equipped Stage and Fly Tower, ample Dressing Rooms, a cafe, also in the Egyptian Style above the main entrance, and was fitted with a Compton 3 Manual 12 Rank theatre organ, which was inaugurated by Al Bollington.

Not long after it opened the Theatre was taken over by Paramount Pictures in December 1930, and just like the Finsbury Park Astoria, was taken over by Oscar Deutsch's Odeon Theatres Ltd in November 1939.

On the 2nd of September 1961, whilst under the ownership of the Rank Organisation, the Astoria was closed after the final showing of the Films 'Information Received,' and aptly 'The Last Sunset.' The Theatre was then subsequently modernised. This consisted of removing most of the original interior, although the auditorium ceiling was left in place.

The Theatre was then reopened on the 18th of September 1961 as the Odeon, Streatham, a name it retains to this day. The opening Film was 'No, My Darling Daughter' with Juliet Mills who was in attendance for the screening. The Theatre then continued as a Cinema with occasional stage use including Ballet, Pantomimes and Concerts right up until the final live performance there in December 1978 with a concert by Ian Drury.

In 1979 the Theatre closed down so that it could be tripled with a large screen in the former balcony for 1,095, and two smaller screens in the former rear stalls area which each held 267. In 1983 the original safety curtain for the Theatre was lowered for the last time and a new screen was built in front of it for the number 1 Cinema. The following year this main Cinema was later reduced in size again by installing a new screen where the old Balcony front used to be.

In 1991 a fourth Cinema was installed in the former front Stalls of the Theatre, seating 240 and then a fifth screen was built into the original stage of the Theatre seating 196.

In 2001 refurbishment work on the building was carried out and yet another two small Cinemas were installed in the building by fitting one into the former rear of the Circle and by splitting the front Stalls Cinema into two so that currently the Streatham Odeon has 8 screens. Very little of the original interior remains of this once vast Theatre which is now in use as a modern multiplex Cinema complex.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me.

 

You may find the following pages from this site of interest: