This slim paper flyer is a rare survivor!
The detailed illustration shows a busy street scene. Crowds snake down Inge Street, boys on bikes ride along Hurst Street and a tram is passing by too.
The star attraction for the week was Fred Karno?s comedy performance ?Perkins The Purser?.
Fred Karno was a music hall performer who popularised slap stick acts and launched the careers of famous names such as Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy.
The illustration on this poster shows local Aston born performer Dorothy Ward. It marks her first performance at the theatre. She returned many times up until the 1950s.
By 1913 she was a big star of musical comedy and pantomime, in which she played ?Principal Boy? and her husband, Shaun Glenville often played opposite her as ?The Dame?.
Can you find Dorothy?s husband on the bill?
Sharing top billing was singer Fred Barnes, ?The Birmingham Idol?. Encouraged and drawn to the world of show business at an early age he became famous for his song ?The Black Sheep of the Family? which hinted at his homosexuality. It wasn?t until 1967 that homosexuality was made legal in the United Kingdom.
?It?s a queer, queer world we live in
And Dame Nature plays a funny game
Some get all the sunshine
Others Get the Shame?
Large posters were positioned outside the theatre to advertise what was appearing soon. The most famous and well known acts were positioned at the top of the bill, the less well known at the bottom.
In this week the star attraction was the film ?The Battle of Waterloo?. It was a military epic, the longest and most expensively made film of its day.
The film boasted 200 veteran performers, 50 canons and ?200 spent on a carriage which was blown up!
Drawn carefully by hand this design shows improvements to the theatre?s projection box for showing films. It is one of a number of building plans drawn up and approved at the time. We don?t know if the work was carried out, the theatre was closed at the time.
Films and newsreels were shown again in 1917.
In 1910 the theatre closed and then reopened in the same year with a show that featured Fred Karno and his company, which included Charlie Chaplin. It closed again in 1914 (when further building changes were drawn up) until 1917, re-opening under the management of J. and W. Draysey, sons of the original builders. In 1919 the theatre closed again!
This decade saw the first appearance of artists who returned regularly up to the 1950s, including Robb Wilton, Dorothy Ward and Georgie Wood.