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The Playhouse opened in 1931 with the futuristic film "Just Imagine" and was run by CAC. Original seating was 429 in balcony, and approx. 800 in stalls. The auditorium was quite plain, apart from the ceiling which had a flat dome lit around the edges. There were large openings on either side of the procenium opening, lit from behind with coloured lamps. Screen tabs were lit by traditional footlights and battens. The balcony was entered by two sets of doors at the rear. Original projection equipment was Ross, with front shutter projectors and RCA sound.
The cinema was taken over by J.B. Milne theatres in the late 1950's (the same time as the Playhouse Montrose), when projection equipment was replaced with BTH projectors and sound. Arc lamps were Peerless Magnarcs. The only other change made at this time was replacing the carpet in the stalls aisles with the JB Milne trademark green rubber.
The cinema was again taken over by Kingsway Entertainments in 1968/69. No changes were made, and films continued three times weekly on Mon-Wed-Fri opening at 5.30pm and 2.00pm on Saturdays - there were no Sunday performances.
In October 1972 the Playhouse closed for six weeks for modernisation. the entire cinema was stripped out, including all light fittings. The balcony was altered to create two small entrance tunnels near the front, and the old rear entrances were used as exits. New red seats were installed, and capacity reduced to 340 seats. Stalls seating was also upgraded with much improved legroom, seating 390 and leaving a large open space between the front row and the stage. All houselighting and stage lighting was removed and replaced with a new battery of spots mounted in the front of the balcony in order to floodlight the procenium. New screen curtains were put in, and the splay wall openings curtained over. The dome cove lighting was reintroduced around 1976/77. Kingsway did a very good job of the refurbishment and it looked modern and airy with a hint of the old.
The next change was to the projection equipment around 1979 when Westar projectors and a new Westrex transistorised amp was installed along with two Peerless xenon conversions. Projectors were adapted to take 5,000ft spools. The projectors and sound heads came from the Pavilion Cinema in Forfar, which had been on bingo for many years but had been well looked after by the former chief who still worked there as a handyman.
Later in 1981 one Westar was replaced by a Phillips FP20 and a Westrex Long playing tower. The remaining Westar could be used for emergencies, and the old RCA amp was also kept for the same purpose.
The old canopy was also removed, and replaced by a flat back-lit readeograph with interchangable letters. Films then ran either for six days or were changed twice weekly on Mon and Thursday. Sunday shows were finally introduced in 1978 after many refusals by the local authorities.
In 1984 The Playhouse was a very busy cinema with average admissions of over 1,900, and between 5000 to 6000 for the blockbusters. For a small town it was kept in very good condition by the owners and well patronised by both the locals and people in the surrounding areas.
The stalls were adapted for amusements, though films continued to be shown in the balcony, which sat 330. This closed finally in August 1999, and was later converted to a nightclub.
Information and archive photos courtesy of Allan Goodall.
|Opened in 1939, seating around 1,500. Now Gala Bingo.
During the early 1980s, bingo was in the stalls area and the balcony was unused, although the cinema seating was still in place. The former cafe was used as the Granada bar and disco, also run by Kingsway Entertainments. The Regal stopped showing films in the early 60's.
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