Elephants on the Theatre Royal Stage - old playbill settles long-standing debate

It has been talked about for years that the Theatre Royal actually had elephants on the stage for a show. Well information has now been unearthed to settle this long-standing debate.

Gordon Burdekin found this playbill on Kirby's Flying Ballets web site advertising amongst other highlights a complete circus on the stage! The stage was known to have been strengthened as additional supports under the stage can be seen, installed to take the extra weight. Andrew Sutton could not shed any light on the actual date of the performance. He told Gordon: 'I’m afraid I can’t help you. I’ve wondered about it myself and can only guess at the dates from the ticket prices. The 3 posters were given to me a few years ago by Nick Kirby when he left the business and now hang amongst the ropes and harnesses on the walls of my workshop. I wish you the best of luck with the project. It’s a lovely “proper” theatre and should be re-opened'.

Gordon then received a message from Keith Oldham who has done some super sleuthing!! Keith writes:

Hi Gordon. You have a playbill for the Theatre Royal Hyde advertising The Circus Queen with Kirby's, elephants etc. It's on the Onward website but people were wondering about the date. It's 1923. At the bottom of the bill it shows "If Four Walls Told" as coming the following week. "If Four Walls Told" was written by Edward Percy (Edward Percy Smith) and was first performed in 1922 so the bill can't be earlier than 1922. At the top of the bill it shows week commencing

Monday 19th February and in 1923 the 19th February fell on a Monday. Because of leap years this wouldn't happen again until 1934. The Savoy didn't show "If Four Walls Told" in 1934. It was being refurbished and had a limited programme for that year, all of which is online. Ergo the bill belongs to 1923!

So elephants were indeed on the Theatre Royal's stage, twice nightly the week commencing Monday, Feb. 19th 1923!

Thanks to Gordon, Nick and Keith for solving the mystery!

© Theatre Royal Hyde