Back in the days when you draped an Arctic Fox around your shoulders for an evening out and travelled to town in a Ford Consul De-Luxe, The Opera House Manchester had a host of stars to entertain you. If you wanted variety or pantomime, there was Beatrice Lillie, with her arched eyebrow and curled lip, the Kaye sisters, Tommy Cooper, Ken Dodd, Rosemary Squires (of ‘Hands that do Dishes’), The Bachelors (remember ‘Charmaine’?), Mike Yarwood (of Bredbury Stockport), Lonnie Donegan, Arthur Askey, David Essex, Dora Bryan (Britain’s highest paid star in her time), Harry Secombe, Eric Sykes and Hattie Jacques and more.
If you wanted a play, you could be avant-garde and European and see Derek Nimmo and Vivien Leigh in ‘Duel of Angels’ by Jean Giraudoux.
There were musicals: ‘Oklahoma’ in 1950′, ‘Wonderful Town’ in 1954, ‘The Music Man ‘in 1962, ‘Oliver’ in 1965, or ’42nd Street’ in 1989 and Gilbert and Sullivan operas with Valerie Masterson. And after the show you could find a varied menu and absolute cleanliness at Jay’s Café on Portland Street.
I only know all of this because someone has kindly donated a bundle of sixteen Manchester Opera House Programmes from the 1950s and 60s: a reminder of fun times in another era.
The 16 programmes are on sale at Oxfam Wilmslow for £8.99.