The theatre opened as the New Theatre in 1912, renamed the New Queen’s Theatre in 1915 and as the Opera House in 1920 when it came under the wing of John Hart and his associates of United Theatres Ltd. In 1931 it was bought by, and prospered under, Howard & Wyndham Ltd which had been formed at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow in 1895 by Michael Simons. The group`s managing director A Stewart Cruikshank, headquartered at the group’s headquarters in the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh was joined on the board by Charles B Cochrane who now became a visiting producer at the Opera House, premiering numerous musicals and revues. The theatre staged the full range of plays, musicals, opera, and pantomime.
It closed in 1979 and for five years was a bingo hall. The Palace Trust acquired it in 1984 and returned it to a theatre. In 1990 it was acquired by Apollo Leisure and staged large-scale musicals.
The theatre has a rectangular plan and is built of stuccoed brick with a slate roof. Its symmetrical fifteen-bay facade is in the Classical style with a five-bay centre with fluted Ionic columns. Above the three central bays is a relief of a horse-drawn chariot within a semi-circular arch. The gable has a moulded cornice on brackets. The entrance canopy is a 20th-century addition.
The auditorium has two curved cantilevered balconies with large overhangs each holding 500 seats. Either side of the stage are stacked boxes between pairs of fluted Corinthian columns. The high proscenium arch is decorated with a circular medallion flanked by gryphons. The high ceiling above the auditorium takes the form of a coffered segmental tunnel vault.
The stage is 42 feet deep and 37 feet wide. The orchestra pit holds 80 musicians. The theatre has 1,920 seats. The theatre was redecorated in March 2011 keeping the green and gold colour scheme of the auditorium unchanged.
Address: 3 Quay Street, Manchester, England
Owner: Ambassador Theatre Group
Architect: Richardson & Gill with Farquarson
Information correct as of September 2020