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HistoryThe Gaiety Theatre was originally a large Pavilion opened in 1893, but shortly after opening it was closed and architect Frank Matcham was commissioned to redesign the building. In 1900 it was reopened as a grand Opera House and Theatre and for the next 14 years it experienced great success. The World Wars came and went, times changed the the theatre began to fall into disrepair as it failed to be commercially profitable.
Throughout the 1950's the Theatre was used as a Cinema and by 1968 plans were on the table for its demolition. The Isle of Man Government acquired the building in 1971 and by 1976 they had begun the much needed restoration. Over the many years which followed on limited funds the building was brought back to his original design. It remains one of the many key heritage buildings for the people of the island as well as a centre for the Preforming Arts.
The theatre underwent a vast amount of restoration between 1990 and 2000. In 1995, during under stage restoration the Corsican Trap was recreated and installed. This specialised trap was to create the appearance of gliding across as well as rising up through the stage. It gives an amazing effect which captivates the audience. This feature of the theatre is the only known original in the British Isles.
LocationLocated on the sea front at the end of town most near the centre of the bay. The building is well marked out the outside and is an attraction most locals know well.
Travel to Douglas and then along the sea front to Harris Promenade and park along the sea front.
Douglas can be reached using most main bus routes: 1's, 2's, 3's, 4's, 5's, and 6's, as well as many other minor routes. On the island most routes leads to/from Douglas. A promenade stop is closest, but access from the bus station is not too much farther.
By Electric Railway, take the trams heading to Douglas. Then walk along the Promenade to Harris Promenade where the Gaiety Theatre can be found.
(Note: It is a long walk, there are always buses and in the summer a regular service by the Horse Drawn Trams.)
By Steam Railway, take the train to Douglas and then walk along the Quay to the Promenade at the end of it. Then walk along to Harris Promenade where the Gaiety Theatre can be found.
Isle of Man
Tel Administration: +44 (0) 1624 620046
Tel Box Office: +44 (0) 1624 694555
Visiting the Gaiety TheatreThe Gaiety has seating for up to 800 people. There are different types of seating, including private boxes. The theatre hosts shows year around covering a variety of areas from modern pop and dance to more classical concerts. There are also local and traveling productions.
There are fully guided tours during the summer. The tour lasts about 90 minutes and costs most areas of the theatre. See below for more information.
Cameras and camcorders welcome during tour.
The Tour starts in the Lobby. From there tickets are bought and everyone waits for the tour to begin. A Tour Guide soon appears and begins with the lobby, explaining how the theatre was built with a class system and describes how it worked. There is also a mention of the man who built the theatre, how long it took him, and how he did it.
The tour then moves on up the stairs to the upper circle (balcony seats) and then down into the theatre for front row seats. There is then a detailed explanation of the inside of the theatre, how it was designed, and its restoration.
From there the group moves into the back of the theatre, behind the curtains and onto the stage. After a little talk about the stage and backstage it is down into the basement to see the wooden stage traps and hear about them and how they work.
Moving back up to the stage it is onto the fire escape stairs. The Gaiety was built with stairs designed to move people out fast during a fire. Continuing on up into the top of the theatre far from the stage. Sitting again to hear about this part of the theatre. Once with uncovered wooden benches as seats it was only slightly more comfortable then the ones back slightly which were standing only.
The tour now comes to an end as it moves into a posh refreshments room, where souvenirs are on sale and then down into the lower refreshments room where hot drinks and biscuits are on offer.
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