Theatre's 1894 panto poster on display for milestone

The poster and programme from a theatre's first ever pantomime have gone on display, coinciding with the 130th anniversary of the foundation stone being laid.

A man brought the items, which were kept by his great, great, grandfather, to Wolverhampton Grand Theatre after the venue mentioned the production of Sinbad the Sailor in a Facebook post.

The theatre said it had "always known the title of our first pantomime but very little more", until the man, Bradney Mitchell, came forward.

The foundation stone was laid on 28 June 1894, with Sinbad swashbuckling by Christmas Eve that year.

The building, now "one of the finest examples of Victorian architecture in the city", first staged an opera for two nights, Utopia Ltd by D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, before closing for panto rehearsals.

One of the great British music hall figures of the Edwardian era, Queenie Leighton, "a much-loved star of the West End pantomimes", played the title role, the theatre said.

The poster and programme can be seen on the dress circle level of the theatre at the top of the staircase that leads from the foyer.

Mr Mitchell said the items, as well as "a great many unpublished works of art" and photographs, had been kept by his relative George Bradney Mitchell.

His great, great, grandfather had intended to publish a book in colour entitled Wolverhampton and its Environs "to inform future generations of the changes for the better" to the city in the late 19th Century.

But "despite his experimentations in print, the colour printing process had not yet been commercially successful", Mr Mitchell explained.

He added he himself had now been "privileged enough to continue his wishes" by publishing information online.

The theatre will officially celebrate its 130th anniversary on 10 December this year to coincide with its original opening.

More memorabilia from pantomimes such as Mother Goose starring Ian McKellen and John Bishop and the theatre's 2023/24 production of Snow White will also feature as part of the celebrations in the near future.

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