Astoria Finsbury Park
232-238 Seven Sisters Road,
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The Astoria Theatre, in the inner north London distict of Finsbury Park opened on 29th September 1930 with Ronald Coleman in “Condemned” and Greta Garbo in “The Kiss” plus a Gala Stage Spectacle, with artists from the other Astoria Theatre’s making a special engagement on the stage.
It was the fourth of the famous London suburban Astoria Theatres built by Arthur Segal. Decorated in a lavish Spanish Moorish/Atmospheric style by interior decorators Marc-Henri and G. Laverdet. It was equipped with a twin console Compton 3manual/13Rank theatre organ opened by G.T. Pattman. There is a 64 feet wide proscenium with a 35 feet deep stage and 12 dressing rooms. There was a cafe on the circle foyer and a fountain containing goldfish in the main foyer is still in place today.
Taken over by Paramount Pictures in December 1930, it was taken over by Oscar Deutsch’s Odeon Theatres Ltd. on 27th November 1939. The Compton organ was in regular use in February 1958 when an extended ‘roadshow’ run of David Niven in “Around the World in 80 Days” played at the Astoria.
One-night concerts were held on the stage in the 1960’s by; Connie Francis, Adam Faith, Shirley Bassey, Johnny Mathis, Dave Brubeck, Ray Charles, Sarah Vaughan, Brook Benton, Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis, Nat ‘King’ Cole, Errol Garner, Cliff Richard, Joe Brown, Dave Clark Five, Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry, Bill Haley, Brenda Lee, The Beatles, Gene Pitney, Roy Orbison, Georgie Fame, Everly Brothers, Sonny & Cher, Otis Reading, Walker Brothers, Aretha Franklin, Duke Ellington and the Beach Boys…to name a few. “The Beatles Christmas Show” was presented on the stage from 24th December 1963 until 11th January 1964, artistes supporting The Beatles included Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas, Rolf Harris, The Fourmost, Cilla Black, Tommy Quickly and The Barron Knights.
Re-named Odeon on 17th November 1970, it was closed by the Rank Organisation on 25th September 1971 with Bill Travers in “Gorgo” and Hayley Mills in “Twisted Nerve”.
It was converted into the Rainbow Theatre from 4th November 1971 when The Who performed the first concert in the newly named theatre. It became a world famous venue where all the major groups and artists performed for the next ten years, including; Alice Cooper, Wishbone Ash, Mott the Hoople, Fairport Convention, Joan Baez, Frank Zappa, Doris Troy, Isaac Hayes, Pink Floyd, Steve Miller Band, Desmond Decker, Deep Purple, David Bowie, Genesis, James Brown, ELO, Status Quo, Garry Glitter, Kinks, Chicago, B.B. King, Lou Reed, The Osmonds, Neil Young, Roxy Music, Allman Brothers, Stevie Wonder, 10 CC, Lindisfarne, Bay City Rollers, Queen, Tangerine Dream, Jerry Lee Lewis, Iggy Pop, Marc Bolan & T Rex, David Soul, Elton John, Slade, Dolly Parton, Bob Marley, Rose Royce, Donna Summer, Boney M, Blondie, Olivia Newton John, Sex Pistols, Muhammed Ali, The Jackson’s, Boomtown Rats, Dionne Warwick, Iron Maiden, Billy Connolly, The Jam…..the list goes on……
Occasional films were screened including Jimi Hendrix in “Jimi Plays Berkley” in January 1972, the World Premiere of the Leonard Cohen film “Bird on A Wire” on 5th July 1974 and the last film to be screened at the Rainbow Theatre was on 10th August 1979 Paul McCartney’s “Wings”.
After the Rainbow Theatre closed on 24th December 1981 it was designated a Grade II Listed building, but it lay empty and unused for the next 14 years.
It was taken over by its new current owners, the Brazilian based United Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) in 1995, and they began work on restoring the building. The auditorium restoration was the last part of the restoration to be completed in 1999, and the theatre is now the main base for UCKG in the UK.
The Astoria Theatre is a Grade II* Listed building.
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