Saturday, February 09, 2013

A Music Hall Night out in Woolwich 1932

Browsing through some old theatre programmes at Haynes Lane market in Crystal Palace last week, I came across this from December 1932. The Royal Artillery Theatre in Woolwich was converted from the Recreations Rooms of the Royal Artillery Barracks. Damaged by bombs in World War Two, it closed in 1956 and was then demolished (there's a history of the theatre and details of its exact location at the Arthur Lloyd theatre history website).

In 1932 the Theatre lessee was Frank Littler, and the managers were his step-children Blanche and Prince Littler. The latter two were the children of Jules Richeaux, a second-generation French Londoner who had started out running a tobacconist  in Camberwell and ended up running the theatre in Woolwich. When he died, his wife Agnes took over the theatre before marrying Frank Littler. Prince, Blanche and their brother Emile became in 'the 1930s and 40s the most powerful figures in the theatrical world of the West End and Provincial theatre, with almost a total monopoly in producing musicals and pantomime in the United Kingdom' ('It's Behind You'). Blanche later married the music hall star George Robey.

Headliners for six nights in December 1932 were 'the wireless stars' Alexander and Mose, a 'black face' duo made up of comedians Albert Whelan and Billy Bennett - who also appeared on the programme under their own names. Other acts included The Juggling Demons, Angela Guilberte ('The Singing Accordionist'), Rogers and Lascelles with Ann ('The popular dancing trio'), Wheel & Whoa ('comedy cyclists') and Val Vett ('Rag-Time, Rag-Picking Rag-Painter').

The programme tells us that the 46 tram to New Cross and Brockley went to the door of the theatre, and also advertised the forthcoming pantomime, Dick Whittington.

Programme printed at the Perfecta Press, 154 Camberwell Road, SE5.

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