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.
During the mid 1970's John Redgrave's summer spectaculars, the likes of which Babbacombe Theatre had never seen before, 'Holiday Spectacular' was to make a significant impact on variety entertainment in the Bay. It was then the current owner, Colin Mathews became involved with producing shows which over several seasons into the mid 80's starred Bernie Winters & Schnorbitz, Dana & Paul Shane. Out of season, the Torbay Operatic & Dramatic Society, better known as TOADS, kept the venue operational, until Colin took over in 1986, to save the venue from closure.
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.
You will find magic in abundance during 2014 with the all-new shows, FANTASY & WEST END NOW!
Both shows promise you an explosion of exhilarating splendour, with casts to surpass the boundaries of talent. The producer, Colin Matthews has bought together for your viewing pleasure, stars of stage, screen and the music industry to enable him to conjure up a cornucopia of entertainment.
‘FANTASY’ embraces the true essence of variety in all its guises. With side splitting comedy, mind blowing illusions, powerful vocalist singing dynamic songs and dreamlike dancers, this 5 STAR family show invites the audience to experience the narratives found in West End and Broadway hit musicals, sound bites from Oscar winning movie soundtracks and Grammy Award winning pop songs, whilst being confused by the mystical talents of an award winning illusionist. Also enjoy original comedic material interspersed with the humorous tales from iconic comedy classics.
WHAT THE PAPERS SAY ”This production enthralled the audience". “Amazing Illusions!" “The audience leave the theatre with aching sides: this year from laughing at the jokes of established favourites, Andy Oakley & Dean Winters". “with powerhouse vocalists this year Keedie, Paul Cobley & Becky Bennett this show cannot fail". “The staging, lighting and backdrop also added to the overall production and the bright and vibrant costumes were perfect and enhanced the numbers"
‘WEST END NOW’, another 5 STAR show features an eclectic mix of current West End hit musicals, many of them award winners and will include excerpts from , The Book Of Mormon, Phantom Of The Opera, The Bodyguard, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, Miss Saigon and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels to name just a few!
WHAT THE PAPERS SAY ”Every performer has vocals that would surely be welcomed on London's real West End". “The harmonies are a force to be reckoned with!" “What is so good about West End Now is not only did it include favourites from the likes of Les Misérables and The Lion King, but also songs from new high energy musicals The Book of Mormon and The X Factor Musical, I Can't Sing, it even included a song from Memphis, which hasn't even opened in London yet!"
So with an enchanting variety show and a showstopping musical production, there really is something to ENTERTAIN YOU at the Babbacombe Theatre throughout 2014.
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.