In more than 50 years of operation, Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre has played host to some of the most popular stage shows, plays and musicals on the planet.
But few of those can match the sheer drama, excitement and intensity of the World Snooker Championship, which has been at home at the Crucible since 1977.
No player has dominated the snooker stage quite like Ronnie O’Sullivan in the modern era, with seven world titles to his name. The Rocket is on course for an eighth championship in 2023 if he can reign supreme in Sheffield once more, which would make him the most decorated champion in the sport.
O’Sullivan remains the favourite at odds of 11/10 for those betting on snooker to lift the famous trophy, although he’s joined in the latter stages of the draw by former world champions Mark Selby (4/1) and John Higgins (6/1), the 2022/23 ranking points leader Mark Allen and the supremely-talented Si Jiahui (22/1).
It doesn’t get any better than this 𝒎𝒂𝒈𝒊𝒄𝒂𝒍 maximum from Ronnie O’Sullivan 😍#OnThisDay in 1997: We witnessed the fastest 147 in snooker history at the World Snooker Championship 🚀@ronnieo147 | @WeAreWST pic.twitter.com/ggExQZ7MXQ— Eurosport (@eurosport) April 21, 2023
Anthony McGill has a catalogue of quarter-final appearances to his name at the World Championship despite not being a prolific winner elsewhere, which the Scot attributes to the magic of The Crucible. ‘We are in a theatre and snooker is drama,” he has said. “It’s the best kind of drama, and no one can tell me otherwise. I love it. It’s a shame we don’t play in more theatres because snooker is perfect for it.”
It’s thought that the audience at The Crucible, which is relatively small in size for a theatre, is no more than 20 metres away from the tables at the most – an intimate atmosphere that seems to suit some, like O’Sullivan and McGill, more than it does others.
The venue will continue to host the World Snooker Championship until 2027 at least, although plans for a new 3,000 seater building on the site of The Crucible could sadly bring the curtain down on one of sport’s most unlikely, but ever-fascinating, locations.
All the World’s a Stage
One of the most enduring features of The Crucible is its thrust stage, which sees the drama unfold on a platform surrounded by the audience on three sides.
It not only makes the World Snooker Championship unique – normally spectators are sat a decent way away from the players and the table, but also the Sheffield venue’s theatre productions too.
Go behind-the-scenes with a guided tour of our iconic theatres.— Crucible Theatre (@crucibletheatre) April 21, 2023
Perfect for people who want to find out more about the history and restoration of the Lyceum, or the brutalism of the Crucible.
Photography by James Stewart pic.twitter.com/K6NFaq8OQI
Amongst the first saw Sir Ian McKellen tread the boards in Chekhov’s Swansong back in 1971, while Victoria Wood, Jack O’Connell and Kenneth Branagh, who appeared as Richard III at the venue, have also appeared at The Crucible since.
It remains one of Yorkshire’s premier theatre houses, with an eclectic schedule of plays, musicals and dance performances both within the main hall and the sister venue Playhouse throughout the year.
Whether you are a seasoned theatre-goer in Yorkshire or simply want to try something different, The Crucible remains at the forefront of live entertainment some five decades after first opening its doors.