I am working on the programmes from The Theatre Royal which was on Peter Street, very close to the Free Trade Hall. It opened in 1845 and at present I have catalogued its programmes up to 1899. The programmes are so beautiful and in the 1890’s some of them were transformed into a fan shape. Perhaps they were used by the ladies visiting the theatre as an actual fan. The programmes that are available are from 1865 up to 1922 which are currently archived at Central Library. .
Many famous artistes and company’s performed at The Theatre Royal during the late 1890’s. Sir Henry Irving, Ellen Terry Wilson Barrett, Sarah Bernhardt, Tyrone Power, Henry Lytton, to name a few.
Amongst the many opera companies that played there were The Carl Rosa Opera Company, the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company and Sir Augustus Harris’s Italian Opera Company.
I found it strange that there was a famous actor called ‘Tyrone Power’ and thought it can’t possibly be ‘The Tyrone Power’, movie star in the ilk of Clark Gable and Errol Flynn; heartthrobs of my mother’s era, the 1930’s and 40’s. It turns out that Tyrone Power, the actor at the Theatre Royal was the father of Tyrone Power the movie star.
Another unusual listing is an opera called ‘Jane Annie’ written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and J M Barrie which was staged by the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company. It was a bit flop and only survived for 51 performances in London and a short touring version which came to the Theatre Royal.
Some of the most unusual adverts were for Bovril, Sunlight soap, Honeymoon Soap and a Mr Timpson who repaired shoes plus an ad for furniture that could be bought on weekly payments, just like today.
An advert that spoke out to me was for a wine company on Cross Street, Manchester called ‘The Bodega’, they sold wines and cigars etc. I remember as a teenager in the 1960’s going to the same ‘Bodega’ which was in the cellars on Cross St Manchester. It was a bar and blues and jazz club in which Georgie Fame, George Melly, Long John Baldry, Chris Barber, Humphry Littleton, Kenny Ball, Rod Stewart, Julie Driscoll to name just a few of the famous people who performed there. (I had to lie about my age and add two years onto my date of birth so that I could go there!)