About The Theatre
The atmosphere in this place, you can't beat! Stay kind to it and treasure it all you can ... "Bruce Forsyth
Although bands had performed during the summer on the site where Babbacombe Theatre now stands, it wasn't until 1920 that a small bandstand was built. This was followed in 1935 by a larger structure with a canvas awning and although an improvement on the alfresco concerts the inevitable wind and rain did its worst, so in 1938 the BABBACOMBE DOWNS CONCERT HALL was built and it remained virtually unchanged for almost 50 years, until the present management took over in 1986 when improvements started to be made to enable more lavish productions to be staged.
The Concert Hall was officially opened in brilliant sunshine by the Mayor (Councillor C.G. Price), attended by members of the Torquay Corporation Entertainments Committee & St. Marychurch & Babbacombe representatives of the Town council. The ratepayers of Torquay, at a cost of £8,000, funded the building project.
The very first concert here was on the afternoon of 27th May 1939 with the Earnest Gross Municipal Orchestra and BBC Baritone John Steabben, followed that evening by the opening night of the first summer show, Cabaret Revels with tickets at 3/-, 2/- and 6d. The first Sunday concert on 4th June was broadcast live on the radio with Redvers Llewellyn.
With the advent of World War II it was not long before entertainment had to give way to more important uses and the auditorium became a lecture hall for the air crew trainees of the RAF, although during this period there were various shows including those by ENSA and the RAF Flying Training Command Band. This wartime use was commemorated with a plaque presented by the local RAF Association, now on display in the theatre foyer.
Since the war the theatre had seen many years of successful summer shows and it has the reputation of hosting household names on the threshold of their careers, including in 1955/56 Bruce Forsyth, who headlined in the Hedley Claxton's 'Gaytime'. Other well known names include David Nixon, Ted Rogers, Ray Allen, Norman Vaughan and Roy Hudd.
From its heyday in the 1970's, successive failures in the early 1980's led to the council deciding to close the theatre, however Colin Matthews, who had been operating the theatre since 1986 took on a new lease in 1990. Since then he has turned the venue into one of the most successful theatres of its size in the country
Refurbished in 2006 the BABBACOMBE THEATRE, has been a valuable asset to the town for over seventy years having been renowned for wowing audiences with their highly acclaimed shows, most especially since 1986 when Matpro Limited took over the venue. Apart from 2016 marking the 30th anniversary of Colin Matthews, it is the year the venue topped the ranking on TripAdvisors theatres and performances in not only Torquay, but in Devon, having previously been in receipt of their Certificate of Excellence Award for four consecutive years. It was also the only theatre in the Bay to have produced three consecutive ‘5 STAR’ productions.
Colin remains as enthused now as he did when he first opened in 1986 to keep variety alive, albeit nowadays it is as much about receiving regular ‘online’ reviews, ‘check ins’, ‘hits’ and ‘tweets’ reaching out across cyberspace as it is about the show itself.
In this digital age, ‘Starstuck’, has a cast that promises side - splitting comedy, powerful vocalists delivering dynamic songs and elegant dancers who are endlessly energetic performing to entertain you, up close and personally.
During 2016 as well as STARSTRUCK & THE MUSIC OF THE NIGHT, appearances from iconic british performers are bound to make a lasting impression. See Lulu, Brian Conley, Liza Pulman, Rich Hall, Tony Christie and even Paul Gascoigne. There really is something to ENTERTAIN YOU at the Babbacombe Theatre throughout 2016.
Having worked with some of the biggest names in the world of entertainment for over 30 years, producer Colin Matthews, now actively seeks out new and versatile performers for his productions which, together with his youth policy, has resulted in the discovery and development of young talent with success nationally and in the West End for many performers that have appeared in his shows. For information on the young people who have gone on to perform on the West End and internationally, click on the HALL OF FAME tab. (www.babbacombe-theatre.com/theatre/hall-of-fame.php)
The venue with its extended season running from February to October, as well as the visiting shows providing early and late dates and the now regular Christmas Show the Babbacombe Theatre has productions running virtually throughout the year. New shows are constantly added to the programme as a season progresses, to keep abreast of all the shows appearing at this celebrated venue, refer to the WHAT'S ON tab (www.babbacombe-theatre.com)
The Box Office hours vary during the season, however when closed calls divert to the administration office.
Box Office: 01803 328385
The theatre provides:
- Access for the disabled with a disabled toilet.
- Wheelchair spaces.
- Loop system
- Sundries, confectionery and soft drinks to buy
Enjoy a pre-show meal or drink in the interval or after the show at the Babbacombe Inn, literally across the road and only a 30 seconds walk. It is advisable to book prior to your visit to the theatre and if you redeem your voucher on your ticket holder against your pre show meal for two, you can get a free coffee with every two course meal, to contact the Babbacombe Inn call on 01803 316200.
BABBACOMBE ALSO HAS MANY FINE PUBS AND RESTAURANTS THAT OFFER GREAT FOOD WITH A SOCIABLE ENVIRONMENT TO ENJOY A RELAXING DRINK. WE CAN HIGHLY RECOMMEND THE FOLLOWING ESTABLISHMENTS: -
The Downs Hotel, Babbacombe Bay Tearoom, Hanbury's Fish Restaurant renowned for their award Winning fish & Chips, the Oasis Bar at the Sefton Hotel, the Norcliffe Hotel's Patio Bar, Cary Arms, Angels, The Old Coach House, The Buccaneer, the Cliff Railway Café, the Oddicombe Beach Café and finally, but by no means least is the lovely Babbacombe Royal Hotel & Carvery.