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Fears lifted over venue that hosted Burton, Zeta-Jones and Steptoe.

IT WAS where Catherine Zeta-Jones appeared in some of her first stage performances and a young Richard Burton acted alongside future Carry On star Kenneth Williams.

Now, councillors in Swansea have been told there will be no "fatal cuts" in the coming financial year to the budget of Swansea's muchloved Grand Theatre. The authority's cabinet member for culture and recreation Graham Thomas will reassure councillors at a full meeting of Swansea Council on Thursday that the Grand, opened in 1897 by the world-famous opera star Dame Adelina Patti, will remain at the centre of live drama in Swansea.

In a written question to Mr Thomas following concerns over the future of the Grand and recent outspoken support for the theatre from Lord Mayor Richard Lewis, Swansea Conservative group leader Rene Kinzett asked: "Does the cabinet member support the Lord Mayor's campaign to prevent fatal cuts to the Grand Theatre's budget?" In his reply Mr Thomas said: "There are no cuts proposed in the council budget for the 2011/12 financial year. The council is committed to ensuring the provision of theatrical and artistic productions at the Grand Theatre reflecting its status as one of the leading theatres in the UK."

Those who have performed there include Catherine Zeta-Jones when she was a 13-year-old member of the Gendros Catholic Amateur Operatic Society which presented The Sound of Music.

Others include arch Goon, singer, actor and comedian, Sir Harry Secombe, Welsh entertainers Ryan and Ronnie, Stan Stennett, Max Boyce and Ivor Emanuel, who famously led the rendition of Men of Harlech in the 1964 film Zulu. Entertainer Des O'Connor appeared in pantomime there, leading the cast of Cinderella in 1958.

And in 1950 Richard Burton, then aged 25, appeared in the Chekhov play The Seagull alongside a 24-year-old Kenneth Williams and a 38-yearold Wilfrid Brambell, who would go on to make his name in Steptoe and Son.

Last year Swansea Council placed the Grand Theatre on a list of all indoor leisure centres being reviewed for possible new managership arrangements with some possibly going to trusts or even private ownership.

But Swansea Council leader Chris Holley said any move to private ownership for the Grand would be "a last resort".

CAPTION(S):

The magnificent auditorium of Swansea's Grand Theatre which has escaped any financial cuts
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 1, 2011
Words:383
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