You glance at your theatre tickets up by your mirror as you do your last bit of fixing up. You’re excited to be going to the Sea Craft Building to see a theatre production on Grand Bahama.
As your car pulls into the makeshift parking lot on the gravel off Fishing Hole Road, you see ladies carefully lift their gowns to avoid the mud as they enter the tin-roofed building. After presenting your ticket and saying hello to friends, you sit on a folding metal chair.
The show begins, but so does the rain! The actors raise their voices to be heard above the pound of raindrops on the metal roof. It is a quick shower, thankfully. But wait, an airplane is approaching. The actors must stop mid-sentence, wait for the airplane to rumble past overhead as the metal roof resonates, then resume where they left off.
These were the humble beginnings of theatre on Grand Bahama.
A dedicated group of individuals (mostly British) who had a love for theatre began and kept theatre alive on Grand Bahama, and fortunately for us, it is still thriving today.
In 1961, the Freeport Players’ Guild was officially formed with the following board members: Sir Jack Hayward, President; John Slack, Vice President; Patricia Bloom, Secretary; Betty McConville, Treasurer; and William MacNeill, David Brooks, Peter Aston, Raymond McNeill, Martin Sinsley as Directors.
It wasn’t until 1971 that the Regency Theatre was built, opening with the Guild’s production of The Importance of Being Ernest. In 1973, the Freeport Players’ Guild was proud to welcome Prince Charles as a visitor to the Regency Theatre.
In 1991 and 1992 renovations were necessary to keep the building in good repair. There have been many changes and improvements over the years, the largest renovation project taking place in 1991 -1992.
In 1996 the theatre celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a special Stroll Down Memory Lane production, when the auditorium was renamed in honor of Peter Aston.
The Regency Theatre is definitely a building that holds wonderful memories and a rich theatrical arts history for Grand Bahama. It’s had good-to-great years, and years when it was difficult to keep the theatre going, but with the help of many dedicated persons over the years, we still enjoy live entertainment today!