Inside Alhambra Theatre

Inside Alhambra Theatre

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Young Reporter Raza Khan welcomes Regeneration to Alhambra Theatre with a look at this exciting and beautiful venue at the heart of Bradford.

In 1914 Francis Laidler and his dashing moustache built what would become the most iconic building in Bradford,  the Alhambra. Having just passed its hundredth anniversary, the Alhambra has played host to hilarious pantomimes, magnificent musicals and beautifully produced plays. One gets the sense the famed theatre is the magnanimous, cultural centre of Bradford - the beautiful architecture coupled with a century of culture makes for the perfect setting for any show.

Today I had the pleasure of being given a whistle-stop tour of the Alhambra by Helen Green, the venue programmer. Very literally going behind the scenes and learning about what goes into creating a night of wonder, magic and stellar performances. As an avid theatre goer, I have always been astounded by sets on stage, from the wilderness of a warring Africa in Julius Caesar (Royal Shakespeare Company) to a cacophony of paranormal activity in A Christmas Carol, the Alhambra is always able to create dazzling worlds. Today, however, I stepped through the dazzling world and into its inner workings; standing on stage I was surrounded by men and women in hard hats hammering the stage together, lights being cautiously lifted and fitted. It was like watching someone at Disneyland take their costume off and reveal their true identity. When telling this to Neale Birch (Associate Producer of Regeneration) he laughed, 'these sets take time to put together, even the floor of the stage is changed because it can be seen by those up on the balcony. We don't want to shatter the illusion and show it's just a big jigsaw.' Neale Birch and his team have put together a captivating jigsaw on an iconic stage, hopefully the fruits of their labour will be portrayed by tomorrow's performance of Regeneration.

When walking around the Alhambra I was captivated by the juxtaposition between old and new, the blend of ages allows the audience to be swept up by the historical humour of Laurel and Hardy, whilst enjoying a Coke in the 1914 restaurant. As I was lead around the theatre, I couldn't help but be moved by the overwhelming sense of pride - after having a very difficult time financially during the 1980s, the Alhambra made a guest appearance in The Dresser. The money gained from this venture resulted in the theatre being refurbished, once again taking its place as one of the biggest, and most revered of theatres in Britain. My favourite part of the theatre being its Wall of Fame, featuring the likes of; white wizard Sir Ian McKellen, time-lord Colin Baker and illusionist Derren Brown. In a city such as Bradford which is so often described as 'deprived' and 'dangerous', the extensive list of star-studded acts which have graced the Alhambra serve as a reminder that regardless of how others see Bradford, we will always have a sanctuary in the Alhambra. Where the stars flock to provide nights of magic, of splendour, of escape, the Alhambra will always be a safe haven of unparallel beauty for the people of Bradford. 

What does Alhambra Theatre mean to you? Get involved and tell us what you love about Alhambra Theatre using #LOVEALHAMBRA 

The Alhambra Theatre is regarded as the North's premier touring venue and hosts the best in large scale entertainment from ballet and opera to variety and comedy, musicals, drama and Yorkshire's biggest panto. For more information visit their website or twitter @BradfordTheatre.

Regeneration premiered on 2 September 2014 (previews from 29 August) at Royal & Derngate, Northampton, where it continues until 20 September 2014. It then tours to York, Edinburgh, Bradford, Nottingham, Cheltenham, Richmond, Wolverhampton, Darlington and Blackpool where it concludes on 29 November.