A variety of entertainment takes to the stage of the Strand

Long before it became an arts centre in 2013, crowds packed into the Strand in east Belfast in the mid 1980s to see comedians, musicians, showbands and international acts including Little and Large, Dana, The Nolans and The Drifters.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

This was during the venue’s time as a variety theatre, masterminded by local businessman Ronnie Rutherford and on August 12, the Strand will host a nostalgic return to these variety years.

Headlining the special one-off bill is legendary Belfast comedian Roy Walker. He is joined by Clubsound, the most successful comedy showband of the 1980s, alongside suave crooner Trevor Kelly and singer Janet McCartney. Presented in partnership with David Hull Promotions and EastSide Arts Festival, the event is part of the Strand Stories heritage project, made possible by The National Lottery Heritage Fund Northern Ireland.

Strand Arts Centre Heritage Officer Rosie Hickey said: “Strand Stories aims to record, cherish and promote the social and architectural heritage of the Strand, creating lots of opportunities to share memories of this landmark building and to engage with, and learn about, the heritage of the Strand.

Clubsound will perform at the Strand Arts Centre in east Belfast on August 12Clubsound will perform at the Strand Arts Centre in east Belfast on August 12
Clubsound will perform at the Strand Arts Centre in east Belfast on August 12

“While the venue is perhaps best known as a cinema, our more recent evolution to a busy arts centre for live theatre, music and workshops has had many people reminiscing about the Strand’s variety theatre days when it was still one large auditorium. It therefore seems like a natural fit for the Strand Stories project to take a trip down memory lane and we are thrilled with the line-up for this special event.”

Roy Walker grew up just around the corner from the Strand. “The last time I was at the Strand, there were so many westerns playing that they had to keep the horses out the back,” he said. “I’m very, very, very excited to be back. I feel like the fella in the big picture.”

George Jones, Clubsound front man for 52 years, is looking forward to a return to the Strand’s stage. “When I was 11 my first professional gig was the Strand cinema in 1955 during the Minor’s matinee,” said George. “We were a seven-piece skiffle group, six guys and one girl trading under the name of Danie Sands and the Javelins. Our line-up was a t-chest bass, a wash board and five guitars for which we were paid the princely sum of ten shillings in old money, between us. I remember that feeling of pride that with a paid booking we had really made it.

“As an East Belfast boy, to be returning to my local picture house 67 years later, having travelled the world as a professional musician, is such a wonderful feeling.”

Read More
All aboard as the Groovy Train returns

There are two variety performances on Friday August 12 at 2pm and 7.30pm. Tickets can be booked in person at the Strand from 1.30pm daily, by phoning (028) 9065 5830 or online at www.strandartscentre.com.

Related topics: