Jersey has a strong theatrical culture, and there is always something on to entertain, either from regular visiting companies of performed by one of the many local dramatic societies or theatre companies.
The main performance venues in the Island are Jersey Opera House, the Jersey Arts Centre’s Benjamin Meaker Theatre and St James and the Gloucester Hall at the Island’s main leisure complex, Fort Regent. A number of pubs also host live original entertainment from local bands to stand-up comedians.
Refurbished in time for its hundredth birthday, the Opera House was opened in 1900 with a show starring the Jersey Lily, the famous Edwardian beauty, Lily Langtry. There has been a theatre on the site for over 150 years, however, and the Grand Old Lady of Gloucester Street has been a major factor in keeping both Islanders and visitors entertained.
But the music hall days are long gone and now the 625 seater-venue is a firm date on many a professional company’s national tour and presents West End musicals, contemporary theatre, stand-up comedians and world-renowned musicians.
The more intimate Benjamin Meaker Theatre, which seats 250 people, can be found at Jersey Arts Centre’s main building in Phillips Street, which is often simply referred to as the Arts Centre although Jersey’s arts centre also runs St James, plus organises street theatre and outdoor performances at the beautifully landscaped Howard Davis Park as part of its Alfresco Arts! programme supported by Jersey Tourism. This public park provides a delightful open air venue for a number of performers, from bands to storytellers.
Once an elegant 19th century church, St James has been deconsecrated and is now building a reputation as a versatile performance space with wonderful acoustics, as everyone from the Taiko Drummers to the Harlem Gospel Choir have discovered.
Fort Regent is the island’s biggest leisure complex but its Gloucester Hall can be converted into a 2,200 capacity theatre making it the Island’s largest indoor performance venue which stages popular shows such as Spirit of the Dance as well as the Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s version of the Last Night of the Proms. It has also been used to full advantage by Jersey’s independent promoters +Positiv and On Stage Events who have packed the Hall for performers such as Australian Pink Floyd, Chris de Burgh and Status Quo.