WHERE IS IT? On the corner of Bath Street and Elmbank Street, near Sauchiehall Street and Charing Cross train station
Sister theatre to the Theatre Royal, the King’s Theatre was commissioned by the now-defunct Howard & Wyndham group, who owned a number of theatres in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
They eventually sold the theatre to the Glasgow Corporation in 1967 in order to protect it from the competition of their rivals, as well as invest in the rising popularity of films and television. The theatre has played host to a variety of famous actors and performers including Katharine Hepburn, Laurence Olivier and even the Jackson Five. Since 1960 it has hosted a high profile Christmas pantomime, which has seen a number of Scottish comedy actors take to the stage including Stanley Baxter, Ricky Fulton, Elaine C. Smith and Gerard Kelly.
The theatre, comprised of red Dumfriesshire sandstone, was given a facelift in 1990 when Glasgow became the first British European City of Culture, and another is planned in time for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. In 2002 it became the first Scottish Theatre to be owned by the Ambassador Theatre Group, the largest UK theatre group, dominating London’s West End. This has a certain sense of circularity to it, as it was English architect Frank Matcham who designed the King’s but is best known for his work in London, such as Victoria Palace and the Hackney Empire. Although the building has changed a lot over the years, the most noticeable changes were seen during World War II. An iron canopy that wrapped around the front of the building was removed to make ammunition, while two female statues which graced the pavilions were removed for fear of damage, but misplaced and never replicated.
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