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1867 at Tyne Theatre & Opera House - a unique, immersive experience for theatre & history lovers

*We were invited to a press performance of this show. Please see my disclosure policy for details

As I was driving back from Newcastle in the dark this evening, I had to switch my headlights on for the first time this year and I couldn't help but feel excited about the months ahead. Autumn/Winter is a fantastic time of year for theatre and the Tyne Theatre & Opera House & 27 Productions has kicked the season off with a cracking week of one-off and unique performance/experience/tours in special celebration of the theatre's 150th birthday. 

1867 at Tyne Theatre & Opera House Review - a unique, immersive experience for theatre & history lovers

It's no secret that the Tyne Theatre & Opera House is one of my favourite theatres. Standing proudly on Westgate Road, the building is steeped in history both inside and out. 1867 aims to bring some of the theatre's history back to life and is part theatre tour, part history lesson and part live theatre. There are two performances daily (2:30pm and 7:30pm) until 17th September and if you love theatre or have ever watched a show here, I would urge you to buy a ticket as you gain a massive insight into theatre life, the history of the building and how it works today. 


1867 is a 45 - 60 minute walking tour (although there is one part where you get to sit in the stalls) around the theatre. It's an intimate performance with limited tickets available for each show and you don't just get to be up and close to the action, you actually get to be part of it. The performance begins with audience members being provided with a special headset which guides you around the theatre and shares tales of the theatre's past. You'll bump into various theatre cast members along the way too. It's an odd mix of up-close theatre, the unknown and a self-guided tour. It works well though.


The tour takes you from the theatre bar to the stage door, past dressing rooms and even into the basement. I don't want to give too much away but can't help but share a couple of my highlights. We stumbled upon a stage hand on the actual theatre stage (which by the way is around 10 times bigger than I expected) and were introduced to the theatre chairman. As he shared with us a few tales from the theatre's history (I had no idea it was a picture house for 60 years), the safety curtain started to raise and we got to experience what it must feel like to be an actual actor on stage at curtain up. It was all very exciting! 


Another huge highlight was being taken down into the theatre's basement. It's a pinch yourself moment as you get to see all of the theatre's workings up close - something the general public would never get to see. I had no idea that so much work went into the trap door we usually see at the panto! I'll be watching this year's show with a brand new insight now. A stage hand invited us to take a peek up close and told stories of past performances which involved horses on stage and up to 190 crew working behind the scenes. It's really easy to imagine the theatre in action. 

1867 at Tyne Theatre & Opera House Review - a unique, immersive experience for theatre & history lovers



We 'stumbled' upon a rehearsal of Macbeth and listened intently as we learned about the theatre's big fire in the 80s. You can still see the charred beams by the side of the stage too. 

1867 at Tyne Theatre & Opera House Review - a unique, immersive experience for theatre & history lovers

I absolutely LOVED the experience and if you are interested in the history of Newcastle, theatres or just fancy a peek at how trap-doors work, I would definitely recommend. My only criticism is that the experience felt like it was over quite quickly. At around 45 minutes long, it's the shortest performance I've watched in a long time. They do manage to pack a lot in though and I've spent my evening tonight sharing my newly found theatre knowledge with Steve. I know the rest of the family are going to get a little bored of me pointing out that I've actually been behind the scenes when we next watch a show ( and the time after that ). I feel like taking this special behind the scenes tour is a real privilege and I am so pleased I had the chance. I really enjoyed being on the wrong side of the stage and as I am super nosey by nature, it was fantastic being able to have a nose around places the public don't normally get to see.

1867 runs until 17th September. Tickets are £20 each. The performance is suitable for adults and children aged 14+ (minors must be accompanied). Due to the nature of the show, it is not suitable for those with mobility issues.





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3 comments

  1. I've done work in several theatres and behind the scenes is always fascinating. As a normal audience member you don't truly know what is happening behind those curtains. Here's another random Hooper fact. My Dad painted the names on the boxes / ceiling of the theatre many years ago. Above the stage is written "Shakespeare", which is over the front of the stage. My Dad was scared of heights, but that didn't stop him doing the work.

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  2. Wow it sounds brilliant - such a unique experience!

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  3. Loving the photo of our stylish headphones! You have perfectly summed up the night. It was something really unique and gave me a fab insight into behind the scenes-I still can't believe how far up and down the back stage of the theatre goes! It's massive!! must have been such a feat of engineering 150 years ago

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I always love reading your thoughts and comments - Sam x

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