Thursday, September 20, 2007

Stockport performances

We went to a family wedding recently, a daughter of Karen's Cousin. I didn't know them at all, although I knew their Grandparents. It was held in three venues in Stockport, all within walking distance. The wedding was a Civil Ceremony in the Town Hall, followed by a blessing in a church and then the wedding "breakfast" (i.e. the Reception) in something called the Stockport Masonic Guildhall..

The wedding was actually held on the landing of the ceremonial staircase with the audience sat in the lobby below. It is very ornate with rich marble and worked well for a marriage (it wouldn't in Morley, the staircase is a bit too dismal and the hallway too shallow) but it felt a little odd because you knew that it went off to some other grand rooms beyond. What it did work very well for was the striking arrival of the Bride from above and the photo opportunity afterwards (as below).

Their cake was also a picture. From afar it looked oddly proportioned and plain but up close it had this really delicate butterfly motif icing work.

Stockport is also famous in entertainment circles for the Plaza Super Cinema and Variety Theatre, run by a Charitable Trust and complete with Cinema Organ & trimmings. The Plaza has a huge facade on Mersey Square and is extremely unusual in being built deep into a hillside. Note the large concrete staircase to the right of the picture.

As you climb the stairs, the fly tower comes into view, but it does look rather shallow and not particularly tall either.

From behind, the fly tower is only about six feet deep. Does the venue really have such a shallow stage?

The answer is surprising. The theatre has a 23' stage. 4' in front of the curtain, 6' with full flying height and then a further 13' with limited height actually under the pavement behind. So why is only a third of the stage equipped for flying? Well it was constructed as a Cinema-Theatre to present Cine-Variety, i.e. performances in between the movie showings. So the flying height is essentially to be able to raise the screen (and associated loudspeakers nowadays) clear so that the stage was available, dressed with drapes rather than scenery. From memory, I've only seen one other venue like this- the Lewisham Concert Hall in Catford, now known at the Broadway Theatre.


Welshcakes Limoncello said...

That is a lovely pic of the bride on the stairs.

Shades said...

Yes, Welshcakes, it was a bit of a wedding cake setting, with those little plastic figures on the top.