It is with a heavy heart that we have learned of the passing of our good friend Kay Mellor. Leeds born and bred, Kay was a pioneer of northern drama and real-life stories, going where no other female writer, director, or actor had gone before. We’re deeply proud and humbled to have been chosen as the home venue for her two stage premieres, Fat Friends The Musical (2017) and Band of Gold (2019) – both of which were huge success stories, as was everything that Kay turned her hand to. The hearts and thoughts of our theatre family are with her family, who we are also blessed to call friends of our theatres.

Exterior of Leeds Grand Theatre at night time. A poster for Carousel can be see on the left hand side and a lamppost is on the right.

Leeds Grand Theatre

Built in 1878, reportedly following an off-the-cuff remark by Prince Albert that Leeds needed a good theatre as “nothing was more calculated to promote culture and raise the tone of the people”, Leeds Grand Theatre, or the ‘Grand Old Lady of Leeds’ (as she is fondly known), is the most magnificent of leading ladies.

Dressed head to toe in her finest Victorian velvet, gold leaf and ornate plasterwork, and crowned with a Waterford Crystal chandelier boasting 6389 crystals, she has welcomed the very best actors and entertainers to her (notoriously steep) stage since the directors of the company gathered the workforce in the orchestra pit on 28 May 1878 to raise a mug of beer, meat pie and three cheers to her success!

Like every titular character she has not been without her troubles, including a planned demolition in 1969 and a multi-million pound restoration of her roof in 2016. But thanks to the backing and financial investment of Leeds City Council, Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, she is now the magnificent home to all types of performances (and several ghosts), including resident companies Opera North and Northern Ballet, the best of the West End and other touring productions, including world premieres of Gary Barlow and Tim Firth’s, The Girls (2015), and Kay Mellor’s Fat Friends The Musical (2017) and Band of Gold (2019), plus world-famous music and stand-up.

Grand by name, Grand by nature.

Give the gift of theatre

Gift vouchers: Valid at both The Grand and Varieties. Expiry date one year.

Buy now

Merchandise: Treat yourself, friends or family members to a souvenir of our venues, including tote bags, mugs and keyrings.

Buy now

Photo shows an off-white canvas tote bag with the City Varieties Logo on it in cherry red and dark blue.

A brief history of Leeds Grand Theatre