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The Alexandra Theatre was built in 1901 by William Coutts at a cost of £10,000 and was originally called the Lyceum. Its opening production was a play entitled The Workman, which ran from 27th May 1901, with tickets ranging in price from two shillings to four (old) pence. Unfortunately, insufficient public support resulted in the theatre being offered for sale just over a year later. The sale attracted no great interest, and the Lyceum was bought by Lester Collingwood for just £4,450.
Collingwood was a flamboyant personality who sported a magnificent moustache. He had extensive theatre experience and was particularly associated with the melodrama When London Sleeps, in which he toured for some time, playing the role of the villain. Many theatres at the time had a royal connection, and Collingwood bowed to tradition by renaming the theatre to honour Queen Alexandra.
The Alexandra Theatre opened in 1902 with a melodrama called The Fatal Wedding. Public taste greatly favoured this genre of entertainment, and the new manager quickly established his personality within Birmingham, such that the venue was soon tagged ‘The People’s Theatre’. Collingwood also initiated the Alexandra’s panto tradition, beginning with Aladdin, which ran for eight weeks. It is rumoured that Charlie Chaplin was one of the actors to have starred in these pantomimes.
Sadly, this golden age came to an abrupt end when Collingwood was involved in a traffic accident at the age of 56. On his way to visit an actress friend in Sheffield, his car collided with a milk float and he was killed instantly. It was revealed some time afterwards that he had amassed the considerable personal fortune of £12,000.
Today the Alex is owned and managed by The Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) who are the largest theatre operator in the world combining international stature with core local venues. As a successful and respected theatre provider, ATG has years of experience helping millions of customers enjoy the very best theatre and live entertainment.
Phone: 0844 871 3011
Address: Suffolk Street Queensway, Birmingham
Postcode: B5 4DS
Area/Nearest station: Birmingham New Street
Twitter name: @newalextheatre