A show remembering Birkenhead’s Argyle Theatre comes to Heswall Hall from Thursday 30 June to Saturday 2 July.
Performed by Heswall Musical Society, “The Argyle Remembered” tells the story of the Argyle Theatre in song and dance.
The Argyle Theatre opened in 1868 as a music hall until it was sadly bombed during the Second World War in September 1940. The theatre once stood where the House of Frazer (formerly Beatties) car park is now situated on Argyle Street, Birkenhead.
The show was researched and written by Joan Clement and is produced by Phil Lyne and Greg Williams as musical director. Songs include “Shine on Harvest Moon”, “You Made Me Love You” and “Let’s All Go Down The Strand”, plus many more.
Charlie Chaplin, Stan Laurel, George Formby, Max Miller, Marie Lloyd, Rob Wilton, Flannagan and Allen, and Old Mother Riley walked to the stage door down the alley, which is now adjacent to Beatties car-park, and played to cheering Birkenhead audiences. You can see some of these acts being portrayed in the show.
In 2010 Heswall Operatic Society now known as Heswall Musical Society, was featured on Granada Reports when they did this show previously. Visit the website www.heswallmusicalsociety.co.uk to see the video about the show.
An exhibition about The Argyle Theatre opens at the Williamson Art Gallery on 8 June.
Performances of “The Argyle Remembered” are at Heswall Hall on Thursday 30 June and Friday 1 July at 7.30pm with a Saturday matinee on 2 July at 2.30pm. Tickets are £10 and £8 concessions and are available from 0151 648 3457.
So come along and join them and “Let’s All Go To The Music Hall.”
About the Argyle Theatre
Opened in December 1868, initially as the Argyle Music Hall, the Argyle Theatre was one of the oldest music halls in Britain. It was owned and directed for over 80 years by three generations of the Clarke family.
The theatre had seating for about 800, with pillars in the auditorium and long, narrow galleries running down either side. Its name was changed in 1876 to the Prince Of Wales Theatre and for several years plays were performed, before the name “Argyle” was eventually restored.
The theatre was famous for its policy of fostering new talent, and pioneering new entertainment. George Formby made one of his earliest performances at the Argyle Theatre in 1921. In this instance, he was not a success and was booed off stage.
Many famous stars made their earliest successes at the Argyle, notably Harry Lauder, Vesta Tilley, Charlie Chaplin, Billie Burke, and W. C. Fields.
In 1896, Thomas Edison’s Vitascope, showed some of the earliest motion pictures seen in Britain.
In 99 BBC broadcasts from the Argyle, 113 new artists were introduced to radio audiences and many went on to become stars.
On 21 September 1940, the theatre received a direct hit during the Blitz of World War II and never re-opened. However, the shell of the building remained in situ until 1973, when finally it was demolished.
The theatre was mentioned in the famous 1971 Morecambe and Wise sketch that featured conductor André Previn. Previn was told that the booked guest, Yehudi Menuhin, had cancelled because he was “opening at the Argyle Theatre, Birkenhead in Old King Cole.”