By Mark McConville
STUNNING RETRO pictures have offered a glimpse behind the scenes as the canine stars of a theatre show get pampered.
The incredible images show some poodle dogs being groomed ahead of their show, showgirls posing with the poodles that appear in their act and the poodles leaving with their handlers in a taxi.
Other striking shots show a stage manager calling the poodles from their dressing room and the poodles being led across a London road.
The remarkable photographs were taken at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London in 1952 as the poodles were performing in a show there.
The Prince of Wales Theatre is a West End theatre in Coventry Street, near Leicester Square in London. It was established in 1884 and rebuilt in 1937, and extensively refurbished in 2004 by Sir Cameron Mackintosh, its current owner.
The first theatre on the site opened in January 1884 when C.J. Phipps built the Prince’s Theatre for actor-manager Edgar Bruce. It was a traditional three-tier theatre, seating just over 1,000 people. The theatre was renamed the “Prince of Wales Theatre” in 1886 after the future Edward VII.
The first production in the theatre was an 1884 revival of W. S. Gilbert’s The Palace of Truth starring Herbert Beerbohm Tree, preceded by a one-act comedy, In Honour Bound.
After 50 years, the theatre’s 800 seats were deemed insufficient for productions of the day, and it was demolished. On 17 June 1937, Gracie Fields sang to the workmen as she laid the foundation stone of the new Art Deco-decorated theatre, designed by Robert Cromie, and the theatre opened on 27 October that year.
The new theatre’s seating capacity was about 1,100, and it had a larger stage and improved facilities for both the artists and the public, including a large, stylish stalls bar (the bar itself was 14 metres long), complete with dance floor. The first productions at the new theatre were Les Folies de Paris et Londres, starring George Robey, followed by Folies De Can-Can in 1938, a continuation of the old theatre’s series of successful risqué revues, which ran continuously until 2am every night.