110 YEARS OF THE TIVOLI THEATRE: LOOKING BACK AND LOOKING FORWARD

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It has been 110 years since the Tivoli Theatre opened its doors to the public under its current name. What should have been a magnificent celebration is now undermined by the current coronavirus pandemic. The Tivoli Theatre closed its doors to the public on the 17th of March 2020 when the country was thrown into lockdown. At Radar, we know that the Tivoli Theatre has a solid place in many people’s hearts – including ours - which is why we would like to celebrate its past and, hopefully, its future.

The Tivoli Theatre is located on Guild Street, across from the Union Square Shopping Centre, in the heart of Aberdeen. It is one of Scotland’s oldest and most beautiful buildings full of history and a bright future.

The Tivoli was designed in 1872 by James Matthews and C.J. Phipps under the name of Her Majesty’s Opera House. In 1897 and 1909, architect Frank Matcham gave the opera house a new lease of life and a new purpose. It reopened in 1910 as, The Tivoli of Varieties – this is when the building was first given the Tivoli name. As the Tivoli of Varieties, it gave the stage to established performers such as Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel. Another man to perform at the Tivoli of Varieties was Aberdonian entertainer, Walford Brodie, and his electrifying act known as the Cage of Death. He was inspired by both Harry Houdini and Charlie Chaplin and took massive risks in his act. The Cage of Death could produce up to 30,000 volts of electricity through his body which could have caused his death.

Prior to the Tivoli being purchased for refurbishment in 2009, it had not been used since 1997. It stood in the street for 12 years in disrepair until it was finally bought to be used for a purpose again, like it once did many years before. The first play the Tivoli hosted since reopening was, ‘Inferno’ – this was an original work by Thomas Bywater. It has also hosted several shows since its reopening such as tribute acts of the Electric Light Orchestra, Queen and ABBA. Other events held by the Tivoli include Christmas pantomimes, adult pantomimes and magic shows.

In February 2020, Ben Hart, from Britain’s Got Talent, graced the audience of the Tivoli Theatre with his well-named magic show, ‘Wonder’. If the Tivoli remains open in the future, it will host famous acts such as Neil Jones from  Strictly Come Dancing with his show, ‘Gingerland’, and comedian Larry Dean with his show, ‘Fudnut’.

The Tivoli Theatre is currently attempting to raise £15,000 to support the future of the Tivoli Theatre and to ‘keep its lights on’. They have currently raised just over £7,000 to keep its doors open on its JustGiving page. They are doing raffles including getting a plaque on a seat in the Tivoli’s auditorium and getting the opportunity to sit in the Royal Box in one of their future shows.

Congratulations to the Tivoli Theatre for entertaining audiences in Aberdeen for 110 years. We certainly hope the Tivoli will be open for many years to come.

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