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Curtain up on history of Lyceum

STAR-STRUCK Stewart Green has turned his love of Crewe's Lyceum Theatre into a reference work.

STAR-STRUCK Stewart Green has turned his love of Crewe's Lyceum Theatre into a reference work.

Stewart, who keeps visitors to Jodrell Bank spellbound as an operator in the planetarium, is near the end of a research project into the theatre's 120-year history.

After six years sifting through old programmes, posters and microfilm of old Chronicle stories, he has pieced together a detailed history of how the theatre came to be built and its star turns down the decades.

His book, The Lyceum Theatre ­ A History, due out in the New Year, has been a labour of love.

He was 10 when he fell for its Edwardian splendour, after watching the 1972 panto, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Stewart, 38, of Congleton Road, Sandbach, said: 'I have many memories of standing outside the stage door in the rain waiting for autographs but when I started my interview show for Leighton Hospital radio I could at least whip out my autograph book without looking like a sad fan!

'I have been privileged to meet many stars over the years. Among my favourites have been Penelope Keith, Norman Wisdom, Anthea Turner plus stars of 'Allo, 'Allo.

'So many have appeared at the Lyceum and they all seem to agree on what a friendly place it is. For my research I have interviewed staff past and present, members of Crewe Historical Society and Friends of the Lyceum.

'They helped me piece together a fascinating history of a building which is a real asset to Crewe.'

The original theatre, opened in 1882, was devastated by fire in 1910.

A new building opened the following year, in time for the general release of the first moving pictures. Les Misérables and Birth of a Nation were the first to be shown.

In 1917, the Lyceum daringly staged an X-rated production, Ghosts, by Hendrik Ibsen, which was strictly for adults.

In 1951 it was the scene of a bizarre rescue when a lion tamer, Tommy Ellis, was mauled by a lion called Satan only to be saved by a boy with a pencil.

He jabbed the animal to make it release its grip!

The Lyceum hit the headlines again when it played host to Phyllis Dixey, voted the world's greatest nude, in her risqué Peek A Boo show in 1954.

Screaming Lord Sutch 'starred' in 1965 when only 94 people and one dog turned up to see his show.

A bizarre theft took place in 1974 when stagehands delivering props for a Dracula - production discovered the Count's coffin stolen!

Never work with animals orchildren was being muttered by performers in 1983 when two bears, appearing in The Wizard of Oz, escaped from the theatre and had to be lured back with Polo mints.

Since being managed by Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council, the theatre has seen many improvement schemes including restoration work in the auditorium and a new front.

The book will bring its history up to present day. Before it goes to print, he hopes to hear from other fans. Letters, addressed to Stewart Green, care of the Lyceum Theatre, can be left with box-office staff.


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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