Our editor, Fraser MacDonald, joined the Building and Heritage Tour at the King’s Theatre, Glasgow to take a look behind the scenes at one of Scotland’s most iconic venues.
The King’s Theatre in Glasgow is the jewel in the city’s cultural crown. Owned by the City Council, it’s currently leased to ATG and stages some of the biggest shows on the UK touring circuit.
Every so often, this iconic Matcham giant opens its doors to offer a lucky few a peek behind the curtain and see what makes this incredible venue tick.
I’ve been coming to this esteemed theatre since I was one. It was my first introduction to theatre, where my love for pantomime and musicals was made. The King’s has a lot to answer for!
Incredibly, despite coming to this beautiful theatre a few times a month, this was my first ever peek behind the scenes – and this fantastic tour surpassed all expectations.
Arriving at the theatre on a rainy January Saturday morning, the doors creaked open to a very warm welcome from the team of ushers and cleaning staff, buzzing around the place in anticipation of a packed two-show day.
Seeing the building so empty offered a rare glimpse at its incredible architecture, much of which you miss as you bustle into your seat with hundreds of other excited patrons.
We were greeted by our tour guide Helena, one of an information-packed team who keep the stories of this wonderful theatre alive.
As a receiving theatre, the backstage area effectively becomes the property of the production that’s there this week – in this case, Shrek: The Musical. While the production very kindly permitted the tour to go behind the scenes, this bit was strictly no photography!
After the obligatory housekeeping, our little group was led from the foyer to ‘The Crush’ at the entrance to the Grand Circle, brushing the brass boots of panto legend Gerard Kelly on the way.
Like many of Matcham’s theatres, the King’s boasts excellent views because of a lack of supporting pillars, due to its cantilever system. It’s the reason for the iconic bounce of the theatre’s tiers – a surreal thing, no matter how many times you experience it!
Tourists can take a seat in the King’s grand boxes – which you quickly realise are more about being seen than seeing the stage – and dive into the history and architecture of this magnificent building.
The real treat begins as the tour ventures behind the curtain, seeing the stage wings, orchestra pit and pop-up changing rooms for quick changes.
There’s so much to digest in this section, but the less said about it the better – it’s one to experience for yourself!
Taking time to answer loads of probing questions from our little group, our tour took around 90 minutes.
For newbies to the theatre scene, this tour offers a fascinating insight into how this incredible publicly-owned building works.
For those – like me – who are regulars, to see a little bit of how the magic on stage happens is a real joy.
The King’s needs work to bring it back to its former glory – buildings of this age do. With a new appreciation for the building itself, I hope that plans in the coming years for renovation can do just that.
Our guide, Helena, couldn’t have been better to lead us on this jam-packed tour. She allowed plenty of time for questions, photos and appreciation of this incredible building.
Our tour concluded with a passionate plea from her – “Keep coming to the theatre, keep supporting culture!”
I don’t think I could have put it better myself!
The next Building and Heritage tour takes place on Saturday 23rd March. Tickets and more info can be found here.