"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 2013 with the all-new shows, SPELLBOUND & WEST END ENCORE!
Both shows promise you an explosion of exhilarating splendour, casts to surpass the boundaries of talent, with comedy, illusion, song and dance to enthral.
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.
Headlining in SPELLBOUND is Phil Lowen, who is in such demand it has taken 9 years to get him to return. Phil is one of the UK's most successful comedy impressionists. His act is zany, energetic, very visual and always hilarious.
Joining Phil on stage is the diminutive, Dean Winters, the bewitching international, singing sensation, Keedie, West End vocalist Paul Cobley, the British Magical Champion of Illusion, Daniel Dean as well as the stunning vocalist Stephanie Blackler, the vivacious, Danze Magique and our junior cast Trix.
WEST END ENCORE!.. features an eclectic mix of current West End hit musicals, many of them award winners and will include excerpts from Singing In The Rain, The Bodyguard, A Chorus Line, Let It Be, We Will Rock You and West Side Story to name just a few! There will also be a featured Les Misérables tribute, with seven of the most loved songs performed in their entirety to close the show. Returning after winning excellent reviews for their performances in last years 5 star show West End Now, are the shows host, effervescent Wayne Champagne Lily Laight, she performed in the original Matilda cast, Aaron Rahn, Lisa Walker, Atlanta and the Miller Brothers, Pat & Matt. The newcomers this season will be three cast members from last seasons, hit show, Stardust, Eloise Cole, Barry Elmer & Luke Sampson and last but by no means least sees the return of Geri Law, the lady with a voice of velvet. Previously she has topped the bill at Babbacombe Theatre when she appeared as part of the award-winning duo, Panache back in 2001.
So with an enchanting variety show and a showstopping musical tribute show, there really is something to ENTERTAIN YOU at the Babbacombe Theatre throughout 2013.
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
Online booking fee £1- NO Credit Card charges applied
No booking fee for telephone or box office ticket sales
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 bottle of wine, 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: -
Cary Arms, Angels, The Downs Hotel, Hanbury's Fish Restaurant renowned for their award Winning fish & Chips, the Oasis Bar at the Sefton Hotel, the Norcliffe Hotel's Patio Bar, 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.