Wilton's music hall is back after lockdown — but has fewer seats
- Credit: Mike Brooke
An historic music hall is set to reopen in Whitechapel after lockdown with reduced audience numbers in line with Covid regulations.
A summer season is outlined at Wilton’s with theatre, music, opera and spoken word performances at the restored Grade II-listed building near Tower Hill, tucked away in Grace’s Alley, off Cable Street.
All the shows will run straight through without interval and new seats have been installed during lockdown in the auditorium, which has been reduced to around 100.
“It has been a difficult year,” Wilton’s chief executive Holly Kendrick admitted. “But we can't wait to reopen and have audiences back to our magical East End building.”
Shows lined up include Apphia Campbell’s Black Is The Colour of My Voice inspired by the life of singer Nina Simone and Christine Bovill’s Piaf homage to Edith Piaf, as well as Tom Carradine’s London Songbook stories of London's history and culture.
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Other performances scheduled in the summer season are time-travelling magicians Morgan & West, Opera Della Luna returning with Curtain Raisers, a double bill with Cox and Box by Arthur Sullivan and Les Deux Aveugles by Offenbach.
The music hall has had to limber up in its fight for survival In recent years, but funding campaigns and volunteers have managed to restore the venue, with a trust set up 20 years ago and Prince Charles its patron.
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He last visited Wilton's with Camilla in 2016 to meet staff after restorations to its original exposed brick walls had been completed.
Wilton's was originally an alehouse from around 1690 serving the seafarers and merchants of Whitechapel. It then became a concert room and small entertainment hall until John Wilton built the auditorium and stage in 1858 and turned it into a grand music hall.
A Wesleyan mission bought the building in 1888 and used it as a chapel until 1958, when it became a rag trade warehouse and eventually left empty to fall into structural decay.
But Wilton's was "rediscovered" in the 1990s and the trust was established by artistic director Frances Mayhew in 2004 to restore it to its former glory.
Wilton's is due to reopen on May 28.