Funnyman Craig Ferguson entertains as Edinburgh Playhouse turns 90

Playhouse Theatre Director Colin Marr with comedian Craig Ferguson
Playhouse Theatre Director Colin Marr with comedian Craig Ferguson
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FROM Laurel and Hardy to the Scottish Premiere of Les Miserables, Pet Shop Boys to Queen, for 90 years The Playhouse has brought some of the biggest names to the Capital and recently funnyman Craig Ferguson joined that roll of honour.

The Playhouse opened on the 12 August 1929 as a super cinema and to mark the occasion, nine decades later, the actor and comedian was on hand to wish the 3,000+ seat venue a very happy birthday.

The award-winning host of the CBS late-night talk show The Late Late Show brought his acclaimed Hobo Fabulous tour to The Playhouse on Sunday, marking his first performance in the city in 25 years.

He joked, “What the world needs now more than ever is an ageing, unhinged vagrant travelling from place to place ranting nonsense into a microphone,” adding, “I really enjoyed being back at the Fringe and the Playhouse after 25 years. I thought it all went really well.”

Colin Marr, Theatre Director was on hand to welcome him and added, “We were delighted to have Craig perform - a real home coming for one of America’s best known TV chat show hosts.

“It was a perfect way to celebrate the role of The Playhouse in the city.”

He continued, “Although beginning life as a cinema, since the late 1970s The Playhouse has been providing Edinburgh with the biggest and best musicals, concerts and comedy.

“We plan to do so for many years to come.”

From its early days as a cinema to the home of musicals, comedy and gigs The Playhouse, which boast the largest indoor proscenium arch theatre capacity in Europe, has been a favourite of generations.

After 44 years as a cinema, the last film to be screened at the Greenside Place venue was the Bond movie Live and Let Die in 1973 - The Playhouse then closed with demolition on the horizon as the site was ear-marked for an office block.

The building was saved by a petition organised by the Playhouse Preservation Group and in 1974 the secretary of state placed a class B list preservation order on the building.

With the threat of demolition removed, the Edinburgh Playhouse Society was formed with the dream of reopening the venue.

In the meantime, The Playhouse held occasional rock concerts and acquired a reputation as a great music venue.

Billy Connolly once said, “The Playhouse is my favourite Edinburgh venue and favourite stage in Scotland”.

Elton John said at the time, “It would be very sad to see the demise of The Playhouse as a music venue, since its size and acoustics are perfect for concerts.”

The Playhouse reopened in 1980 and has since welcomed the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, The Who and Bruce Springsteen.

The Rolling Stones, The Cult (who requested dressing rooms be painted black) and Shirley Bassey (who asked for hers to be painted white) also played the venue.

In 1986 the Playhouse was sold to Apollo Leisure and later current operators, Ambassador Theatre Group.