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The Princess Theatre: A Reassuring Presence in Works of Martin Dutton

Standing prominent in Torquay's Princess Gardens, the Princess Theatre resides, a prominent steward of the Bay's culture and creativity. Since its grand opening on Wednesday 7 June 1961, this magnificent 1,500-seat theatre has enchanted audiences with diverse performances, ranging from comedic brilliance to operatic splendour.

The Princess Theatre emerged during the redevelopment of Torquay's Princess Gardens area. Prior to its construction, the site featured an annual marquee, serving as a temporary home for light entertainment. However, in 1961, Torbay Council unveiled the Princess Theatre, a permanent structure that would become a jewel in Torquay's cultural landscape.

Traditionally, seaside resorts were renowned for their vibrant summer seasons, filled with light entertainment and family variety shows. Torquay and the Princess Theatre were no exception. Over the years, the theatre has hosted a plethora of renowned performers, including comedic legends such as Tommy Cooper, Morecambe & Wise, Joe Pasquale, and Kenn Dodd. Their audiences' laughter continues to echo through the aisles, a reminder of the enduring quality of the shared experience that theatre offers.

Beyond its comedic offerings, the Princess Theatre has played host to an array of musical talent. From esteemed artists like Billy Ocean, Paloma Faith, and Don McLean to iconic bands like Level 42 and Squeeze, the theatre has resonated with melodies that captivated audiences. Whether part of their UK tours or standalone performances, these musicians bring their artistry and talent to the Princess Theatre, enriching the cultural fabric of Torquay.

The Theatre's reputation as a premier touring house has attracted acclaimed productions from across the globe. Audiences have revelled in the splendour of Broadway hits like "Chicago," "The Play That Goes Wrong," "We Will Rock You," "The Cher Show," and "Six." From contemporary productions to long-running classics, the venue's ability to host world class talent provided unparalleled cultural experiences to local audiences.

Additionally, the Princess Theatre supports local talent, providing a platform for two esteemed musical production companies: TOADS Stage Musical Company and TOPS Musical Productions. These annual productions add a vibrant local touch to the theatre’s diverse program, fostering community engagement and artistic growth.

Today, the Princess Theatre remains a beacon of cultural heritage and artistic magnificence, beloved by locals and tourists alike. Owned by Torbay Council and operated by the renowned Ambassador Theatre Group, this architectural gem, with its distinctive 1960s modern design, continues to inspire awe.

An Icon in the Landscape

In his studies of Torbay's Princess Gardens, Martin Dutton turned his eye frequently to the urban landscape that carefully intertwines with this elegant Victorian setting. The grand and much-loved Pavilion came to have particular importance in the body of work, but occasionally he turned his eye to its sister at the opposite end of this seafront promenade.

Glimpsed in the background of two works from the series, the clean lines of Torquay's Princess Theatre reassuringly grace the scene, reminding us that there are pillars of culture across the town that will always provide entertainment and joy for its communities.

You can discover Martin's work at Artizan Collective Gallery until June 25th. For more information, visit



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