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Journey of a Music Hall

By Linda Tancs

Restored earlier this year, Wilton’s Music Hall in London’s East End is the only intact survivor of the City’s Grand Music Hall era. Of outstanding architectural and archeological significance, the arena has gone full circle—from music hall (in 1839, as an adjunct to an ale house) to mission house to warehouse and back to music hall. In its early heyday, two of its stars, Arthur Lloyd and George Leybourne (Champagne Charlie), were the first to perform for royalty. Extreme poverty in the East End in the late 1800s forced its conversion to a mission house that would last for 70 years. Once the mission closed in 1956, the building saw life as a rag sorting warehouse. When redevelopment plans came calling in the 1960s, the campaign began to save the landmark, ultimately bringing it back to life. The hall gives opportunities to emerging artists and presents a year round program that includes theatre (new commissions and classics), opera, dance, magic, music, cinema, circus, traditional music hall, comedy, puppetry and other art forms.

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