June 5, 2018. Sarah Lenton on ‘Thinking Big: the Ups and Downs of the London Coliseum – London’s largest theatre’

The Coliseum has had many incarnations. Build by Oswald Stoll as a Variety Theatre and Music Hall, it went on to host the legendary Ballet Russe, and a string of British and American musicals, White Horse Inn, Annie Get Your Gun, The Boys from Syracuse, Kiss me Kate and so on. The building was acquired by Cinerama in the 60s, but was turned back into a theatre in 1968 when it became the home of Sadler’s Well Opera – now English National Opera. Everything about the London Coliseum is enormous – the stage, the auditorium, the number of its ghosts, and the size of its problems.

Sarah writes “This is my theatre, I’ve been working here since 1979 and seen practically everything.  I know how many tons of sand we can tip on that stage (for Akhenatan), why there’s a knife hanging from the flys, and how we got away with the Don Giovanni set inadvertently bursting into flames.  I even knew some of the ghosts (while they were still alive…)”. The building is a London landmark and this general interest lecture covers the whole of its history with music clips from the shows and operas.


Sarah Lenton is an expert on the operatic rep. and has spent most of her working life in the theatre, principally at the Royal Opera House, Glyndebourne and English National Opera.  She also does live opera broadcasts & podcasts for BBC Radio 3 and writes programme articles and websites.

She is also ordained, and has recently been licensed as a West End theatre chaplain.

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