Grand Theatre & Opera House

46 New Briggate,
Leeds, LS1 6NZ

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Leeds Grand Theatre in October 2004

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Grand Theatre and Opera House was opened on 18th November 1878 with William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing”. Designed by architect George Corson in Gothic Revival/Italianate styles, the theatre originally seated 2,600 in orchestra stalls, dress circle, upper circle, balcony and upper balcony levels plus 14 boxes. There are 17 dressing rooms. The building also contains the Grand Assembly Rooms which seated 1,100, and was used as a concert hall before converting into cinema use in 1906, and closed as the Plaza Cinema in February 1985. It is now a live theatre and has its own page on Cinema Treasures.

The Grand Theatre and Opera House was closed for six weeks in 1895 when improvements were made to the plans of architect Thomas Winn. It is one of the leading live theatres in Leeds. However, it screened D.W. Griffiths film “Birth of a Nation from 18th June 1917 until 4th August 1917. For many years it operated as a variety theatre, and was known as the Grand Theatre.

It became part of the Howard & Wyndham chain of theatres by the mid-1940’s and presented straight play and musicals. In 1978 it became the home of Opera North, and the Grand Theatre and Opera House was to host the Leeds Film Festival in 1989 when the silent classic “Intolerance” was screened to great success, as well as other films. It was refurbished in 2005.

The Grand Theatre and Opera House is a Grade II* Listed building.

Contributed by Ken Roe
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