Glamorgan Archives holds an extensive collection of the original playbills from the Theatre Royal, Cardiff for the years 1885-1895. Situated on the corner of Wood Street and St Mary Street, a site later occupied by the Prince of Wales Theatre, the Theatre Royal provided a wide variety of entertainment including pantomime, opera and plays.
One of the playbills that catches the eye is the bill for 11 February 1891 that includes Charles Chaplin singing ‘Duty Calls’. In fact this was Charles Chaplin senior, for young Charlie Chaplin was only 2 years old at the time. Charles Chaplin and his wife Hannah were both music hall entertainers and, in February 1891, Charles was appearing at the Empire in Cardiff. Such was his popularity that he was loaned ‘for one night only’ to appear at the Theatre Royal for a special and extended performance of the pantomime Sinbad the Sailor. Charles and Hannah’s marriage was not a success. Their music hall careers faded and sadly they did not live to see their son’s career blossom as an internationally acclaimed comic actor and film maker.
If you would like to see the Charles Chaplin playbill or others in the Theatre Royal collection they are held at Glamorgan Archives, reference D452.
Tony Peters, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer