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The Regent - Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, UK.
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Poole/Freeman
N 53° 01.479 W 002° 10.627
30U E 555192 N 5875329
Quick Description: The Regent Theatre located on Piccadilly in Hanley city centre was originally The Regent Cinema owned by Provincial Cinematograph Theatre.
Location: West Midlands, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 4/3/2019 10:45:34 AM
Waymark Code: WM10ATB
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member bluesnote
Views: 0

Long Description:
The Regent Theatre today is owned by the Ambassador Theatre Group. The magnificent building still retains many of the original features and is a number one touring venue, capable of showing the largest touring productions in opera, dance, drama and musicals, direct from Broadway and the West End.

"The Regent started out life as a cinema and opened on 11th February 1929. It was built on one of the oldest standing sites in Hanley, a haberdashery and draper’s bazaar. The site was purchased in 1920 but building did not start until January 1928.
The architect was W E Trent for Provincial Cinematograph Theatres (PCT), which at the time was the country’s largest cinema chain. The cinema was a huge undertaking with seating accommodation for 2,184, including 1,372 on the ground floor and 812 in the balcony - and every seat had a clear view of the screen.

There was also a café with mirrored and decorated ceilings and a lighting system with over 15,000 electric lamps. The entrance hall had a marble floor, decorative ceiling and walls but the main attraction was the ‘Wonderful Wurlitzer’ organ installed above the proscenium and mounted on a hydraulic platform.

Lavish affair
The opening was a lavish affair with the Lord and Lady Mayoress of Stoke-on-Trent, (ald. W T Leason), and the directors of PCT all giving speeches.

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake
The Last Command starring Emil Jannings and Evelyn Brent played continuously from 2pm and there was also a variety show with the 9 Regent dancing girls, a soprano, two tap dancers and Mr E Felton Rapley on the Wurlitzer.
The cinema was packed. The price of the ticket in February 1929 was 6d for a matinee and 8d for the evening performances.
In July 1929, The Regent was the first cinema in the Potteries to introduce ‘Talkies’ when it showed Al Jolson in The Singing Fool.

The Gaumont
By 1930 PCT was being run by Gaumont British, but it retained the name Regent until 1950 when it became The Gaumont.
During the 1940s The Regent was renowned for the staging of Sunday concerts and presented such stars as Henry Hall, Felix Mendlessohn’s Hawaiian Serenaders and Joe Loss.
In the 1960s the venue was home to many local amateur operatic groups as well as pop stars, including Tom Jones, The Rolling Stones and even the Beatles.
The organ remained in the venue until its removal in 1972. Two years later The Gaumont became the first multi-screen cinema in the area when it was tripled and re-opened, entailing under circle alterations in the stalls.
Screen 1, which was the old circle plus the front stalls area seated 1,300. Screens 2 and 3, the divided rear stalls, seated 150 each.

More name changes
From 06 June 1976, the theatre was renamed the Odeon Film Centre, after the closure of the Odeon Trinity Street in Hanley in November 1975.
In 1987 the whole building was subjected to a cleaning and refurbishment programme.
Just two years later, the Odeon/Gaumont/Regent, once the most prestigious cinema in town, closed with a final charity showing of The Sound of Music on 12 October 1989 after Odeon had opened a new 8-screen multiplex at Festival Park.

A new era
In 1994, the venue became part of a feasibility study looking into the possibilities of a new major No 1 touring venue in Stoke-on-Trent.
In 1995 an application was made to the Arts Council of England for funds from the new National Lottery for both The Regent and Victoria Hall.
The plan was successful and work started in 1996 and The Ambassador Theatre Group won the bid to manage both venues.
After almost three years of work the first audience of The Regent Theatre was welcomed by Sir Derek Jacobi on 22 September 1999.
Official opening
The theatre was officially opened by Her Majesty The Queen during her visit to Stoke-on-Trent’s Cultural Quarter on 28 October 1999.
Britannia Building Society became principal sponsor of The Regent Theatre in 1999.
Annie starring Lesley Joseph was the first show to be staged at the newly opened Regent Theatre in September 1999.
In November 1999, one of the world’s finest opera companies, Glyndebourne Touring Opera (now Glyndebourne on Tour), left Manchester for Stoke-on-Trent, where they have resided ever since. The Regent has built a strong relationship with Glyndebourne over the years and in turn, the opera company has established significant links with the local community through creative learning activities." SOURCE: (visit link)

The Grade II* listed building was originally opened in 1929 as a super cinema. It was built by W.E.Trent for Provincial Cinematograph Theatres Limited. The theatre is built in the Art Deco Style, the frontage is clad in white glazed terracotta and features mask representations of comedy and tragedy in each corner. On the left of the upper façade of the theatre frontage the face of Comedy wears a jesters cap, on the right, the face of Tragedy has unruly hair resembling downturned horns. The words 'COMEDY' and TRAGEDY' are inscribed under the appropriate roundels.

The Listed Buildings description is as follows;
"Plan has auditorium with circle and theatre fly tower to rear of entrance foyer and first-floor restaurant facing Piccadilly. Art Deco style. Two storey faience-clad elevation to Piccadilly with masks of comedy and tragedy and 5-light first floor window with original glazing above 2 sets of six double doors with original etched glazing set in revealed architrave.
Elevations to Pall Mall and Cheapside in Italianate style with faience rusticated ground floor, "PCT" in cartouches and original name, "The Regent" in faience signs.
Interior: entrance in Piccadilly leads to large foyer, with coffered ceiling, moulded pilasters to enriched cornice and original light fittings. Stairs lead via 4 etched glass doors to large circle foyer with coved plaster ceiling and pilasters.
Auditorium in lavish Art Deco style stalls and circle: square proscenium arch with moulded plasterwork flanked by elaborate grilles for former organ. Orchestra pit. Circle supported to sides on square moulded piers that continue to ceiling with simple capitals and uplighters. Moulded balcony front stepped to sides. Central ceiling dome with ribbed and "v-shaped" mouldings. Coffered ceiling over rear circle with original light fittings.
Included as a late 1920's cinema belonging to historically important Provincial Cinematograph Theatre Circuit, who pioneered the "super cinema" along American lines in Britain." Source: (visit link)
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A photograph of The Regent in 1929 showing a queue of moviegoers lined up outside. The film showing at the time was The Singing Fool, starring Al Jolson as a singing waiter and composer who loves two women. More than 2,000 people packed into The Regent when it threw open its doors for the first time - can be seen at the following link:
(visit link)

A photograph showing the sign Gaumont on the building can be seen at the following link: (visit link)
Year Theater Opened: 1929

Number of Screen(s): 3

Ticket Price (local currency): Not Listed

Matinee Price (local currency): Not Listed

Concessions Available: Not Listed

Web site: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Must take a photo of the theater.
Please try to include yourself or gps in the picture.
Tell of your experience at the theater, if it is still a theater. If it is no longer a theater tell of an experience from the past at the theater, if this can be done.
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