Anniversaries are a time to celebrate, look back at what’s been achieved, look forward to what’s to come and give thanks for what we’ve got.
So, a huge round of applause is deserved as Aberdeen’s own grand old lady of theatre, The Tivoli, marks the milestone of 10 years since it was brought back to glorious life.
The Guild Street building has a special place in the Granite City’s cultural life. It was the biggest theatre in town – originally Her Majesty’s – before His Majesty’s sprang into being as a replacement in 1906, to cater for the north-east’s massive appetite for the stage.
Through its music hall days, The Tivoli attracted world-class acts – Laurel and Hardy, anyone? – before it went down the well-trodden but sad path of becoming a bingo hall and then… well… nothing. A shell of a thing that went unnoticed and unloved.
Then, enter stage left businessman Brian Hendry, who carefully and passionately turned the lights back on. Now, a decade on, The Tivoli is still full of laughter, excitement and vibrancy – with much more to come.
But The Tivoli is not just a theatre building. It’s both a beacon and a benchmark.
Its fairytale riches-to-rags-to-riches-again story demonstrates just how deeply a love of arts and culture and entertainment runs through Aberdeen. We want shows. We want variety. We want laughter. We want music. It matters to us.
And, when visionary and bold people like Brian roll up their sleeves and lead the way, we can make what seems impossible a reality, and let the arts work magic.
But it doesn’t start and stop with a few individuals. It falls to all of us to ensure we live in a city where the arts are woven through all of our lives, every day – especially in the difficult times we are living through just now.
That means – to use that well-worn theatre adage – bums on seats. It means buying tickets to go to shows, not just at The Tivoli, but at His Majesty’s, Aberdeen Arts Centre and P&J Live: anywhere where there’s something on that needs an audience.
The north-east is blessed in the theatre department
And don’t just hold out for the big names or the massive productions. The north-east is blessed with a dizzying range of talented community and amateur theatre groups who will blow your socks off, if you let them. To this day, I still rate Harlequin’s version of American Idiot above the West End touring version.
An ideal showcase for just some of that talent is coming up, with The Tivoli’s 10th anniversary celebration variety show on September 23, featurng the likes of Attic Theatre, Aberdeen Youth Music Theatre, Giz Giz, Aberdeen Academy of Performing Arts, Harlequin Productions and Gilbert & Sullivan Society. It’s a show you need to see.
We are blessed in Aberdeen to have a vibrant and increasingly vital cultural sector at every level that enriches our lives every day. Let’s all do our bit to keep it that way and help it grow even better – buy your theatre tickets early and buy often. See you at curtain-up.
Scott Begbie is a journalist and editor, formerly for The Press & Journal and Evening Express