Former Patron - Kate O' Mara
Kate O’Mara (1939 – 2014) spent much of her youth at the Kings Theatre, which was built by her great grandfather in 1907 and later run by her actor/manager grandparents. She loved theatre generally, and the Kings in particular and performed here many times.
When the theatre was in its direst need – in danger of being converted to a theme pub or, worse, demolished - Kate became a supporter of Akter (Action for Kings Theatre Restoration) and later, a patron of the rescued and rejuvenated theatre. We will miss her passion and enthusiasm.
Paddy Drew OBE, Kings Theatre Trust
“My Great Grandfather, J. W. Boughton gave Portsmouth and Southsea three theatres, The Princes, The Theatre Royal and The Kings Theatres. He always maintained that he built the Kings for “the people”. In the dark days of war, they did indeed escape from the grim reality of daily drudgery into the Edwardian opulence of the Kings. The audience was transported to an enchanted world of music, colour and romance from which they emerged with renewed hope and vigour. In these bleak days of job losses, soaring crime rates and the ever present threat of terrorism we need “our” theatre more than ever. The Kings Theatre is our heritage, let us ensure it survives.”
Kate O’Mara, November 2003
In her autobiography, Vamp Until Ready (2003), Kate O’Mara recalls “My grandparents, with whom I was left, solved the vexing question of child-minding by taking me with them to whatever theatre they happened to be running... most memorably, the Kings Theatre, Southsea. This was a glorious Edwardian Variety Theatre which had been built by my great-grandfather in 1907. Happily, it still stands today, a marvel of Italian Renaissance opulence, designed by arguably the greatest theatre architect of all time, Frank Matcham.
“During the day, I was given the run of the place and left to my own devices. I made the most of it. I would tear up and down its many staircases, all thickly carpeted in red. I would visit all the boxes in turn, trying them out for the best view of the stage. The safety curtain would, of course, be in place, but even that was covered with elaborately painted advertisements. I would gaze up in admiration at the partially clad decorative nymphs which flanked the boxes, holding up the tier above with their raised plaster arms. I thought them immensely beautiful. I would then climb up to the ‘gods’ and find myself on the same level as the chandeliers that hung from the ceiling where yet more classical maidens disported themselves in permanent, painted, Olympian bliss.”