Silk programme prind for the Grand Afternoon Performance for the Benefit of the Newcastle Infimary, 28th October 1891, featuring a Variety programme with amongst others Miss Ida Rozelle, Walter Munroe, Lotto, Lilo and Otto, Lester King, Miss Lizzie Chase, and Walton and Lester.
Typographical silk programme printed in salmon-pink lettering on a cream programme with an integral fringe top and bottom, headed with the name of the theatre 'THE NEW Empire Variety Theatre NEWGATE STREET, NEWCASTLE' in upper and lower case lettering, followed by the names of the Lessees, Messrs. Moss & Thornton; the General Manager Mr. J.G. Allen; the Acting Manager Mr. J. Pellow, and the Musical Director Mr. J.W. Dawson. 'GRAND AFTERNOON PERFORMANCE FOR THE BENEFIT of the NEWCASTLE INFIMARY' is printed below the list of the management, with the date WEDNESDAY 28th OCTOBER 1891. This is followed by a list of the seventeen acts, and in much smaller typeface the name and address of the printer.
This silk programme with its eye-catching salmon-pink typeface was produced to commemorate a 'Grand Afternoon Performance' or matinee at The Empire Variety Theatre Newcastle, on the 28th October 1891 in aid of the Newcastle Infirmary. The Empire Variety Theatre was the first joint venture of Horace Edward Moss (1852-1912) and Frank Thornton, and one of the earliest Moss Empires Variety Theatres, which at its peak comprised thirty-three theatres, the largest chain in the world. Designed by Oliver and Leeson, it was built to a sumptuous standard, despite the location of the stage above the kitchen of an inn below, which frequently resulted in smells invading the auditorium.
At the opening ceremony for the Empire Theatre the previous December, its lessees Edward Moss and Frank Thornton had appeared on stage and declared they would cater for Newcastle audiences 'with first class matter, free from any objectionable features'. Of the sixteen acts on this bill, five were dancers, two were singers, seven were comedians, one was a bicycle act and another an act featuring 'the World's Worst Wizards', late 19th-century precursors to the well-known 20th century comedy magician Tommy Cooper.