Crewe Lyceum Theatre, Heath Street, Crewe, CW1 2DA – Visit Now
The only Edwardian Theatre in Cheshire, Crewe Lyceum Theatre is the place to experience showstopping entertainment, from classic musicals to cutting edge comedy.
A theatre has been on this site since 1881, when the original Lyceum Theatre was created by Henry Taylor, a keen amateur dramatist. A disused Roman Catholic chapel previously built in 1852 was chosen as the site for the new theatre and it’s said that an old well from the chapel is still in existence under the current stage.
Taylor took on the challenge of building a new 1500 seat theatre and The New Lyceum Theatre opened in 1887. He eventually sold his shares and the Lyceum changed hands quite a few times in the early 1900s. But it was a golden age for live theatre and between 1906 and 1907 two future silent movie stars made early appearances at the Lyceum; Charlie Chaplin appeared in Sherlock Holmes and Stan Laurel appeared in Sleeping Beauty.
A rebrand as The New Opera House was short-lived when the venue was destroyed by fire in 1910. The new building was renamed The New Theatre and opened in 1911 by the famous actor, Edward Compton. The 1930s, Forties and Fifties saw the rise of the circus, and people would line the streets to watch the animals parading to the theatre. These shows could be quite dangerous and on one occasion a trainee lion tamer was mauled on stage by a lion called Satan. The boy was taken to Crewe Memorial Hospital and lived to tell the tale.
Another legendary performer was Sandy Strickland who held the British record for piano playing 194 hours non-stop. ‘Syncopating Sandy’ made his last appearance in Crewe in December 1958 when he played non-stop from 9am on Monday until 11pm Saturday.
The Lyceum has been the star of various television shows, including This Is Your Life with Bob Carolgees (1984), The Ken Dodd Live Laughter Tour (1996) and Louis Theroux’s interview with Keith Harris (2002). In 2019, Blood Brothers smashed box office records to become the most popular visiting show ever. If you’re visiting Crewe, do make time for a trip to the Lyceum and show some appreciation for this grand old girl of the British theatre circuit.