Wolverhampton Grand at 125: Cleaning up on theatre nostalgia

By Marion Brennan | Wolverhampton | Theatre & Comedy | Published:

A relaxing sauna was just the tonic for the cast of a vintage production of the hit comedy Steaming, set in a rundown Turkish Baths.

The cast of Steaming enjoy a real-life sauna in Tettenhall during the play's run at Wolverhampton's Grand Theatre

The play was staged at Wolverhampton's Grand Theatre in July 1984 – coming under fire from a local Tory councillor who objected to scenes of nudity.

In our photo, some of the cast decamped to a nearby spa for a spot of off-stage steaming at the former Cheren Bodycare salon in Albert Road, Tettenhall, with actress Clare Kelly, pictured left, sticking to her role in the play and remaining fully clothed.

She served refreshing drinks to fellow actors Eve Bland, who played Josie, Valerie Pfeiller, in the role of Jane, and Maggie Flint, who played Violet.

The play, about a group of women who meet at an East London Turkish Baths, won the 1981 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy. The original cast included Brenda Blethyn, at the start if her career, who went on to make a name for her portrayals of quirky working-class women, currently starring in the British crime drama Vera.

It was one of two plays featuring nudity to be performed at the Grand at that time that were slammed by Wolverhampton councillor Mrs Muriel Hodson, who claimed Steaming and the play Strippers were offensive.

The image is reproduced here as the Express & Star joins with the Grand to mark the theatre’s milestone 125th anniversary later this year.

* If you have memories or pictures, email or write to 125 Memories Project, Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, WV1 1DE.

Marion Brennan

By Marion Brennan

News and features reporter, specialising in human interest and local history stories.


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