The Alhambra Theatre
You shall go to the ball this Christmas with Bradford panto legend, Billy Pearce, as the loveable Buttons, Emmerdale...
The Alhambra Theatre, the jewel in Bradford’s crown, was the vision of Francis Laidler, a local impresario. Laidler had the idea and vision to build a brand-new theatre in 1912 and it was two years later that his dream was realised. The Alhambra Theatre was officially opened at 2pm on 18 March 1914. Five days later, it opened its doors to the public on 23 March for a variety show, which ran for a week.
The theatre was built from designs and supervision by Messrs Chadwick & Watson of Leeds; the general contractor was Mr J T Wright of Leeds; and plaster and decorator’s work was by Messrs F DeJong & Co Ltd, London. It was said that Italian craftsmen were brought in to install tessellated marble work in the foyer for the opening.
Through the golden age of variety, the 1980’s refurbishment and up to the present day, the Alhambra Theatre has had a wonderful and varied history. The venue’s name is synonymous with pantomime; Francis Laidler was known as the King of Panto, introducing the tradition of the Sunbeams (juvenile troupe) to all the pantos he produced in Bradford.
In 2014 the Alhambra Theatre celebrated its 100th anniversary. In this year the theatre welcomed, for this first time, tours of Disney's The Lion King; closely followed by the National Theatre's War Horse. This milestone was celebrated with a night of variety on Saturday 20 September; the line-up included local panto legend Billy Pearce and headliner Michael Ball. This event was a nod to the theatre’s rich history of variety. It remains an iconic venue, attracting the very best in star names and live entertainment to the city of Bradford.