The Exchange had become a popular venue for live shows, so the owners decided to focus on its new role by applying for a theatrical license and extending the stage.
At the time, a theatrical license was needed to show plays, and so the Exchange Company applied for a license around October 1881. This would allow them to host plays and theatre as well as the musical performances offered so far.
To help put on such shows, a new stage needed to be built. The new stage would measure 53ft by 26ft, with a sloping floor to give everyone a clear view and would also have state-of-the-art features such as hidden lights and secret trap doors!
The first show on the new stage was at the end of November 1881 by the Blackburn Literary Club. The new stage and accessories were described as “being of a very suitable nature and serve their purpose well.” The performance included scenes from “The Rivals” by Richard Sheridan, and “Cox and Box” by Francis Burnand and Arthur Sullivan.