Known for its comfy chairs, vintage aesthetics, and the smell of mulled wine that wafts up the stairs from the kiosk as you enter, The Little Theatre Cinema in Bath is a firm favourite for watching new releases, much-loved classics, and live cultural screenings from top theatres from around the world
Built by community theatre pioneer Consuelo de Reyes and her husband in 1935, the Little Theatre Cinema has remained in the same family since, retaining some of the decorative features of a typical 1930s cinema while more recently undergoing a discreet conversion into a two-screen art-house cinema. It is also now part of the wonderful Picturehouse Cinemas group.
The Little Theatre opened on 10 May 1935 with Consuelo de Reyes choosing Vickie as the opening production. The Little Theatre originally had 210 seats in the stalls and circle levels. The proscenium was 16 feet wide and the stage 16 feet deep. There were six dressing rooms, and from 20 January 1936 it was equipped with a Western Electric (WE) sound system and became a news and interest cinema.
The cinema also boasted a tea and coffee lounge for the convenience of its patrons. It went on to playing feature films from 1939, the first two being Peg of Old Drury starring Anna Neagle, followed by Oh Mr Porter starring Will Hay.
The cinema thrived on local support throughout the years as other Bath cinema venues closed, and in 1979 the former scenery store and lounge area were converted into a second screen.
In spite of many refurbishments to keep the cinema up-to-date with digital sound and the latest projection technology, as well as a renewal of the seats to give the very best comfort levels, The Little Theatre has retained the charm and welcoming warmth of a 1930s cinema, including a luxury balcony with sofas in the main auditorium.
If you have ever seen the classic British comedy film The Smallest Show on Earth then you know what to expect here – its cosy, lovely and very old fashioned, except it is well maintained and has a great art-house film programme.
This cosy little gem can be found in a small square off the main streets in Bath city centre and has a classical facade of cream stone.
The monument of modern cinema returns to the big screen on 7 April, 1.15pm as A Clockwork Orange will be shown as part of the Little’s Vintage Sundays showings.
With its jazzy score by Shostakovich and its music-hall atmosphere featuring beautiful tangos, Bolshoi Ballet’s The Golden Age is a refreshing and colourful dive into the roaring 20s. It will be broadcast on 7 April, 2.30pm.
Christof Loy will be directing a star-studded cast of singers in ROH Live: La Forza Del Destino, with an encore being shown on 8 April, 1pm.
Marking the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death, Exhibition on Screen will showcase London’s National Gallery and Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum major Rembrandt show on 15 April, 6.30pm, and 17 April, 1pm.
Watch theatre on the big screen as the National Theatre’s All Above Eve (starring Gillian Anderson and Lily James) will be shown on 11 April, 7pm, and 26 April, 1pm, and RSC’s As You Like It will be broadcast live on 17 April, 7pm.
There are also new releases such as Mid90s from 19 April.
Little Theatre Cinema
St. Michael’s Place, Bath, BA1 1SF
T: 01225 330803