The Alexandra Theatre Birmingham is a 1386 seat venue owned and operated by the Ambassador Theatre Group which plays host to first-class touring productions.
First built in 1901, The Alexandra Theatre was originally named the Lyceum. The theatre built by Wiliam Coutts for the princely sum of £10,000 but after a year with the public showing little interest, the theatre changed hands for just £4450.
Lester Collingwood, the venues new owner loved melodramas and initiated the theatre’s pantomime tradition when it presented Aladdin back in 1902. The venue was quickly tagged “the People’s Theatre” and it was rumoured that Charlie Chaplin appeared in one of the theatres early pantomimes.
Following the accidental death of Collingwood, the theatre changed hands several times over the subsequent years, with many well-known performers including Richard Attenborough, Sheila Sims, Frank Finlay and Sir Laurence Olivier appearing on its stage.
In the early 1990s, the Alexandra Theatre underwent a major renovation which restored many of its original features at a cost of over £2.5million and started an association with The D’Oyly Carte Opera Company which saw the company base their operations at the theatre.
Throughout the 1990s the theatre played host to smash hit productions including J.B. Priestley’s Time and the Conways, performed by the show’s leading lady, Joan Plowright (Lady Olivier). A host of productions ensued, including Beckett with Derek Jacobi and Robert Lindsay, Lost in Yonkers starring Maureen Lipman, and Sir Peter Hall directing Warren Mitchell in The Homecoming. Blockbuster musicals replaced the traditional Christmas pantomime, and each successive offering broke box office records – South Pacific with Gemma Craven, Susan Hampshire in James Hammerstein’s production of The King and I, The Sound of Music featuring Christopher Cazanove, and Paul Nicholas taking the lead role in Barnum.
1992 saw the world stage premiere of the musical Scrooge, starring Anthony Newley, Jon Pertwee, Stratford Johns and Tom Watt. This turned the national spotlight upon the theatre and further boosted its reputation as a first-class venue. The show opened with a Hollywood-style extravaganza, the likes of which Birmingham had never seen before, and lines of stretch limousines brought city centre traffic to a standstill. Dozens of photographers, crowds of sightseers, five TV crews and a celebrity audience made it the biggest night in the Alexandra’s history.
Scrooge was followed by a production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Aspects of Love, and long queues became a common feature at the Box Office. In 1993, the Alexandra was named ‘Best Regional Theatre’ in both financial and artistic areas.
Over subsequent years musicals including Copacabana, Grease, Summer Holiday, West Side Story, Oliver! and Les Miserables graced the stage.
Today the Alex is owned and managed by The Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) who are the largest theatre operator in the world combining international stature with core local venues. As a successful and respected theatre provider, ATG has years of experience helping millions of customers enjoy the very best theatre and live entertainment.
The Alexandra Theatre has a capacity of 1386 seats, including 604 seats in the Stalls, 368 seats in the Dress Circle and 414 seats in the Grand Upper Circle.