Hidden Secrets of Birmingham’s Iconic Alexandra Theater – 120 Years of Entertainment in Pictures

Built during Birmingham’s Victorian Golden Age of 1901, the Alexandra Theater has had a colorful past and has radically changed its appearance over the decades, as these stunning photos reveal every now and then.

Celebrating its 120th anniversary, The Alex, as it is affectionately known, has been a popular haunt for theatergoers as well as ghosts.

Featuring celebrities at the height of their glory, West End shows and even a speech by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in 1918 as a regular Member of Parliament, the theater has been at the center of the community for over a century.

Read more: This is what Birmingham looked like

We highlight the history and fun facts of the theater in this nostalgic look back at its history and photos.

Alexandra Theater Director Simon Creed said: “The Alexandra has been an integral part of the Birmingham and West Midlands community for a very long time, but the past 18 months have presented challenges never before seen in our history.

“However, we moved on to the other side and once again showed the longevity for which the theater is renowned.

“This is a very special 120th anniversary year for us, so whether you’ve seen many shows at the Alexandra or haven’t visited us yet, come and see some great performances. disappointed ! “

Ghost sightings at the Alexandra Theater

Former owner Leon Salberg is said to be prowling around the John Bright Street building, as there have been ghostly sightings since his death in his theater office in 1938.

Then there’s a housekeeper, whose head-to-toe gray-clad spirit was reported in the late eighties.

Occasionally photos of the Alexandra

The theater is very different today from when it opened on May 27, 1901 – it didn’t even have the same name.

For a short time it was named The Lyceum Theater and the main entrance was on John Bright Street.

The stars of Cinderella in 1974 were Joyce Blair (left), Paula Wilcox (right) and Lionel Blair (center)

It was in 1969 that a “bridge” over John Bright Street was extended to the theater and a new main entrance was added to accommodate visitors to the building from Suffolk Street.

Sold to Apollo Leisure in the 1990s, the company resold it in 1999 to American entertainment company SFX Entertainment for around £ 160million.

What the theater looked like in the 1930s when it had a more art deco feel
What the theater looked like in the 1930s when it had a more art deco feel

Special shows for the anniversary year of Alexandra

The big West End shows take place at the site for the remaining part of its 120th year, which has been in part wasted due to a Covid lockdown.

Big hits include Bedknobs & Broomsticks, The Rocky Horror Show, Dirty Dancing, 9 to 5 The Musical and Chicago are all set to hit the stage in the coming months.

The award-winning Jersey Boys were even advertised as the four-week Christmas run starting December 7.

Jersey Boys is the hit musical coming to Birmingham for Christmas to mark Alexandra's birthday
Jersey Boys is the hit musical coming to Birmingham for Christmas to mark Alexandra’s birthday

Celebrities who have been on the stage of the Alexandra Theater

Film and television stars, singers, actors and theater greats have walked the stages of this historic theater.

Hollywood legend Marlene Dietrich appeared in the theater in 1973 and was greeted by adoring fans.

TV and comic book personality Les Dawsons signed a keepsake for staff to remember while most recently Sting sang clips from his musical The Last Ship in the bar in 2018.

Marlene Dietrich at the Alexandra Theater, Birmingham on May 14, 1973.
Marlene Dietrich at the Alexandra Theater, Birmingham on May 14, 1973.

While Norman Wisdom was among the stars of Robinson Crusoe in 1949, while British actress Dame Anna Neagle played the fairy godmother in the Cinderella pantomime in 1974.

Doctor Who actor Jon Pertwee brought the sci-fi character to life at The Alexandra in 1989 and stopped traffic as he posed outside the front entrance.

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