Important Part Of Liverpool's Art & Cultural Scene
Since Opening As Liverpool Opera House In 1902
The Astor Theatre is the oldest performing arts venue in the province.
In recent years the Astor has had many renovations to the theatre, modifications to the stage, installation of a new projector, and an updated sound system.
Built in 1902 as part of the historic Town Hall, the theatre was known as the Liverpool Opera House, hosting touring and local shows until 1917, when silent films were also introduced. Gradually the film presentation gained in frequency and popularity.
In 1930, talking pictures were shown for the first time, beginning with Love in the Rough, a comedy on golf.
At the same time, the name was changed by Seth Bartling Sr. to the Astor Theatre after his favourite theatre in New York...the Astor Theatre.
During the Second World War, the cinema featured regular wartime documentaries. News reels about the war in Europe became a staple of the Astor's presentations.
Shortly after the war, as cinema presentations grew in popularity, the theatre was renovated to accommodate more people in the balcony. A new screen format was installed to allow cinemascope pictures in the late 1950's. A larger screen was installed and the proscenium arch was widened to allow for the larger pictures. As well, the tin ceiling was plastered over to compensate for amplified sound.
For a time, there were few live productions. In 1979, with increased interest in live presentation, the Astor began presenting local talent through the Winds of Change Dramatic Society.
With the installation of a new thrust stage, the stage area was increased to accommodate larger performing acts.
In June 1987, The Astor Theatre Society was incorporated as a non-profit, charitable organization.
The Astor has played host to many touring artists including Rita MacNeil, Natalie MacMaster, Tommy Hunter, George Fox, Mr. Dress Up, Symphony Nova Scotia, and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
A particularly interesting feature is the tin ceiling as you enter the theatre, retained even after the theatre's original tin ceiling was changed to enhance the sound quality.
Chris Ball, Manager
P.O. Box 1148