The Crucible Theatre at 50

Today, the Crucible Theatre celebrates its fiftieth birthday.

The Crucible was designed by Renton Howard Wood Associates, the project architects being Nicholas Thompson and Robin Beynon. Construction started in October 1969, the work undertaken by Gleesons, and was completed in November 1971 at a cost of £1m.

It is perhaps Sheffield’s most famous concrete building.The Crucible Theatre opened on November 9, 1971, with Fanfare, a production devised in three parts. The first was ‘Children’s Theatre’ in which 34 children were involved. The centre piece was Ian McKellen playing the Old Actor in Chekhov’s Swan Song and the last part was rumbustious Music Hall.

And so, the futuristic theatre with its twinkly ceiling lights, orange auditorium seats and gaudy foyer carpets, started its journey.

We all have memories of the Crucible – plays, musicals, concerts, pantomimes, and, of course, the snooker. The list of famous people who have graced the thrust stage is impressive and the envy of other theatres.

My favourite must be the British premiere of The Wiz, the all-black Broadway musical adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, performed in 1980. It pushed all technical boundaries, including a house blown away in a whirlwind and a flying helicopter.