5 Things to Love About: The Grand Theatre & Opera House Leeds

The Grand Theatre & Opera House Leeds? A theatre which truly lives up to its name. Take a look at the website for this grand institution and you can learn an awful lot about one of Leeds’ star attractions. In short, it ‘was built in 1878, cost a total of £62,000 and took 13 months to build.’ To think such a space could be conjured from bricks and mortar in just 13 months is aptly mind-blowing and entirely on-brand for a venue like this. I LOVE visiting this theatre. Here are five reasons why…

1. The team. Obviously (I did tell you this would be a theme). With press and marketing team Kelly Scotney, Anna Margerison and Kirsty Lodge to meet and greet and share a quick catch up with, trips to Leeds Grand are always as much about the people as the place. I should add that Kelly also loves to dress thematically for the visiting show so there’s the added bonus of coveting various impressive ensembles which usually feature killer heels. Maybe Kelly’s shoe collection should have a slot of their own here… Linda at the bar is also a fave – a real hoot AND a generous pourer of a good dry white…

2. The building. Deep breath. This theatre (the rest of you close your eyes for a wee moment) is my absolute favourite building. Quite apart from the grand exterior, the grand entrance and the grand stairways; and quite separate from the beautiful bar spaces and the level of detail at each level, I’ve never once sat in this extravagant, gorgeously ornate Victorian auditorium without marvelling at it. It’s worth the crick in the neck to take in the opulence of the designs, the detail of the mouldings and the lights and the painted finishes. And the sheer scale of that proscenium arch. AND THAT CEILING. I will never fail to be awed by simply sitting in this theatre surrounded by those sights – it really does live up to its name. I think it’s more than possible that I’ll never get used to such a setting and therefore you will never stop seeing fan-girl picture posts on my Twitter feed. You’re welcome.

3. Good old Will. As a Shakespeare loving lass I was delighted to discover that William Shakespeare resides at The Grand Theatre & Opera House Leeds. Take a trip up the first of the grand staircase levels towards The Grand Emerald Hall and you’ll find my pal Will. Like something of a guardian of theatrics he leans there watching us all go by and it’s a great source of entertainment to me to see so many people taking the opportunity for a quick quirky picture for the Insta…who says the Bard is obsolete eh?

4. The (raked) seating. While this is quite a deep-set auditorium, sight lines offset the sense of distance from the stage very nicely, so regardless of its impressive age, don’t assume the seating will be a tricky one to navigate – it’s a pretty safe bet with this one.

5. The programming. This theatre brings spectacular large scale productions to Leeds. Want to see the big West End hits without hitting the West End? From global smash hit The Book of Mormon to newbie hits Six and Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, you can see top notch big shows at touring prices – The King and I was £90+ for Z row stalls at the London Palladium; it toured to Leeds Grand and offered the same show at a fraction of West End prices (granted, still a little costly for the same section of the theatre, but certainly significantly cheaper and in a smaller theatre which ultimately translates as better views at better prices). I’ve seen some fabulous productions at this venue and I’ll be completely honest, seeing any show at this theatre takes on an extra layer of glamour simply by placing itself at the centre of that obscenely grand auditorium. Did I mention how gorgeous it is? Because it is. Very. I think I’ll just move in without telling them…

In these uncertain times, The Grand Theatre and Opera House Leeds, like so many other theatres, faces an uncertain future. Please read their statement to learn about their approach to the current theatre closures and how you can support the theatre going forward. It’s a sore point for me that this theatre is currently off-limits, but I’ll be back one day, greeting my pal on the first floor, snapping pics of that auditorium and generally feeling lucky to be allowed through the door without a tiara and certified royal connections…see you there!

Hungry for more theatre appreciation? Take a look at some of these other love letters to cracking theatres: Leeds Playhouse, Leeds City Varieties, York Theatre Royal, York Grand Opera House, Harrogate Theatre and Nottingham Theatre Royal. And watch this space – there’s plenty more to come!

7 thoughts on “5 Things to Love About: The Grand Theatre & Opera House Leeds

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  1. An amazing theatre with an eclectic mix of plays, musicals, ballet and opera a great stalwart for the arts community and local and international culture. Can’t wait till it reopens to bring us all back together with an atmosphere full of passion, joy, music, dance, tears and laughter. It lifts our hearts and spirits and opens our minds, entertainment at its Yorkshire best.

    Liked by 1 person

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