About Us

Our History

The Pavilion Theatre opened its doors in central Glasgow on the 29th February, 1904. Described as “pure Louis XV” in style, it was designed by Bertie Crewe for Thomas Barrasford’s expanding chain of British Music Halls. Crewe was also responsible for such theatres as London’s Piccadilly Theatre and the Palace Theatre in Manchester.

The Pavilion was designed in the French Renaissance style, much of which still stands today. The seating capacity of 1449 was made up of 677 stalls, 341 circle, 413 balcony and 18 box seats, which incorporated fine Rococo plasterwork on the circle, balcony and box fronts, handsome mahogany woodwork and a marble mosaic floor. Its opulent design lent the 1800 seat theatre an aura of splendour, and those who attended performances would dress in their best to see some of the finest entertainment Scotland had to offer. Notably, the domed ceiling was surmounted by an electrically controlled sliding roof for ventilation; this feature is still fully functional to this day.

The Pavilion quickly established itself as a leading music hall venue and a hub for Glasgow’s most exciting entertainment and culture. Performances in the early days were mainly variety, melodrama and comedy, and many of the leading music hall artistes of the period appearing at the Pavilion, including Marie Lloyd, Little Tich, Harry Lauder, Will Fyffe, Sarah Bernhardt and a then unknown Charlie Chaplin. And thanks to the high profile entertainment on its programme, the Pavilion became a well-known haunt of many music hall worthies of the time, including Australian singer Florrie Forde.

From the 1930s, a strong pantomime tradition was established at the theatre. Featuring many of the top names of the Scottish variety scene, the shows promptly became a staple of Glasgow theatre tradition and remains so to this day. Harry Gordon, Dave Willis, Jack Anthony, Jack Milroy and The Krankies are just some of the well-known names who have thrilled audiences over the years as part of the Pavilion pantomime.

As the theatre has grown and developed, it has seen several happy and hilarious seasons that featured plays, comedy, music and alternative theatre. Billy Connolly and The Mighty Boosh provided plenty of belly laughs to our audiences, plays have been produced in-house including ‘The Sash’ and ‘The Steamie’, and many a songstress has graced the stage with their dulcet tones, including Glasgow’s own Lulu who broke box office records in 1975.

But it’s been anything but smooth sailing for the venue. 1981 saw a threat of closure due to financial difficulties; the Pavilion was rescued by the aptly named James Glasgow who transformed it into a modest profit maker. The Pavilion also played a major role in the annual Mayfest – Glasgow’s International Festival of popular theatre, music, the arts and community programmes.

In recent years, the Pavilion has firmly maintained its reputation as Glasgow’s number one variety theatre. With a distinctive reverence for tradition and an appetite for the highest quality entertainment, it remains the last stronghold of a long music hall tradition, owing everything to its dedicated staff and patrons