- Theatre Royal, Exeter
The Theatre Royal, Exeter was the name of several theatres situated in the
city centreof Exeter, Devon, Englandin the United Kingdom.
Early theatres and fires
The name "Theatre Royal" was first applied in Exeter by 1843 to what had previously been the Bedford Circus Theatre, in premises dating from 1821. This theatre building was a replacement for one of 1787 which had burnt down the previous year. Under its new name,
melodramaand farcewere staples of the playbill.
This building was completely gutted by
firein 1885 and although it was reconstructed for other purposes the name "Theatre Royal" was transferred to new premises on the corner of Longbrook Street and New North Road.
The new theatre was built by the Exeter Theatre Company to the designs of C. J. Phipps and opened in 1886. Unfortunately it is best remembered for the
disasterduring a dramatisation of " Romany Rye" on 5 September 1887. Firebroke out backstage where gas lightingignited some gauze. The number of exits from the gallery of the auditoriumproved to be inadequate and in the resultant panicamongst the audience186 people died, only 68 bodies being recovered. A national appeal for donations for the victims’ families raised £20,763 and the event was influential in the introduction of safetyprecautions for public buildings. [cite book|author=Anderson, David|title=The Exeter Theatre Fire|publisher=Entertainment Technology Press|year=2002|ISBN 1904031137] There is a memorialto those who died in the fire in Higher Cemetery, Heavitree.
The last Theatre
The Theatre Royal was rebuilt, opening in 1889 with a performance of "
The Yeoman of the Guard" by the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company. The new building had lightingby electricityand a safety curtain.
During its lifetime the theatre presented melodrama,
musical theatre, music halland balletas well as drama. Every Christmasof its 20th century existence saw a pantomime. For a period in the 1950s it showed CinemaScopefilms. [cite book|author=Smith, Stuart|title=The Cinemas and Theatres of Exeter|publisher=Mercia Cinema Society|year=1994|ISBN 0946406286]
The Theatre Royal was closed in 1962 and demolished to be replaced by an office block. Although attempts to save it were unsuccessful they did lead to creation of the
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