The Haunting of The Theatre Royal
An electrician was doing some work in the auditorium when he dropped his tools and fled the building as fast as he could. All he told the staff was that he had heard a noise that he had never heard before coming from one of the seats. The electrician soon after left the company. He then emigrated. Did the ghostly noise make the man flee the country? Another electrician heard a noise in the same area and also suddenly left the company. Neither men could give a detailed description of the noise, but it was enough to make them so scared they had to run out of the theatre.
Another unexplained story is that of a young actress from an amateur company. She was sitting in her dressing room and suddenly ran from the room screaming. She told staff that she had seen ‘something’ and then left the building. She never returned to continue in the show and resigned from the company before setting foot on stage again. We still don’t know what she actually saw, but a new employee who worked in the box office invited her psychic friend to the theatre, who said there were definitely spirits in the dress circle.
One evening during a matinee performance, a member of staff glanced up at the audience to see a plump man with a moustache. He was sat on his own at the back of the theatre away from the rest of the audience. The man was smoking a cigar which was not allowed on the premises so the worker went up to ask the man to put it out. When he got to the back, there was no man, no cigar smell and no one else in the audience was aware of the man sat behind them seconds earlier. The member of staff began to question his sight, when he realised the seat where the man was sat was down. The theatre was previously burnt down which was the result of a man smoking. Could this mysterious figure be him?
I have been to the Theatre Royal a few times, and all I experienced was a lack of leg room and a lot of clapping. Mike Hoyle, a friend who worked at the theatre for years, told me about his experiences. He claimed to be sat in the seating area and being tapped on the shoulder. You guessed it… when he turned around no one was there. He also said things went missing or got moved that could not be explained. He worked late at the theatre and often felt he was being watched and heard numerous unexplainable noises. Another common claim is the smell of cigarette smoke in the auditorium, even when no one else has been there.
The History of The Theatre Royal
The Theatre Royal was built in 1893 and is grade II listed. It was designed by Bertie Crewe and W.G.R Sprague. The previous theatre was built in 1806 but burnt down in 1892 and the new theatre took its place a year later. The present frontage and foyer was added in 1907 and has remained the same ever since.
It used to be owned by leaseholders and used to show musicals, plays and popular films. After this it became a producing house for its own shows and then in 1993 Chris Moreno became sole manager.
In 2009, the Council decided not to financially contribute towards the theatre anymore, and if it wasn’t for local groups, would have been closed down. It was then taken over by ID Productions who used the venue for its tours. The theatre is now mainly used for theatre tours, pantomimes, comedians and musical acts.
The theatre was very popular with members of the RAF at the time of World War II. Guy Gibson from the ‘Dambusters’ often spent his free time here.
Sir Patrick Stewart made his acting debut at The Theatre Royal with his part as Morgan in Treasure Island.