Skyscraper City Forum banner
1 - 20 of 79 Posts

·
Registered Melbourne
Joined
·
4,166 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Australians probably spend far more time in Theatres & Cinemas these days than in Cathedrals or Churches: but these (seem?) to have been overlooked.

Personally, I am not a great patron of either or all of these, but I appreciate them puncturing my horizons, and, perhaps, my soul.

Let's start off perhaps with the theatre/cinema I visited today: the Capitol, Swanston Street Melbourne: the work of Walter Burley Griffin and his wife Marion Honey: who, for what is was worth, wouldn't have been here in the first place if they hadn't won the prize for designing Canberra:




On the outside, the Capitol is generally overlooked. Undeservedly.

The State (later Forum) Theatre, and subsequently the Melbourne Revival Centre, in Flinders St. had much more exotic achitecture: even after it lost a spinnacle or two.





Both of these cinemas had incredible ceilings inside.

The Princess Theatre, Spring Street, doesn't have a notable interior but boasts a ghost:



Of these three, probably the one I visited most most frequently.



I've seen the Nutcracker, Guy's n' Doll's, and umpteen pantomines here: and Mamma Mia! Beneath those Oh-so-impressive minarets of the State/Forum, all I can remember is "The Guns of Navaronne". Strange to say, as a young teenager, I knew what I should be seeing overhead: but it wasn't there.

And although "The Capitol" initially opened with "The Ten Commandements" and subsequently reopened with "The Great Race", depsite my previous knowledge of this great ceiling and interior, I don't think I actually saw it -eye to gypsum-until today.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,804 Posts
Text from Walking Melbourne
The National Trust guide to the historic and architectural landmarks of central Melbourne

Her Majesty’s Theatre
199-219 Exhibition Street, Melbourne

Designed by Nahum Barnet, it opened as the Alexandra Theatre in 1886 (the same year as the Princess). The name became Her Majesty’s in 1900 when Australia’s dominant theatrical firm J C Williamson’s assumed control of the theatre. After a disastrous fire, the auditorium and lobbies were rebuilt in 1934 in an elegant and sumptuous Art Deco style designed by theatre specialists C N Hollinshed & A H Walkley – the dress circle lounge featured walnut paneling, inlaid with pewter and ebony and a metallic finish ceiling. In 2002 it was extensively refurbished by the new owner Mike Walsh, former TV personality and now theatre impresario.



Above and the next two below, Her Majesty’s (Alexandra) Theatre in all its past glory.







Above, an old sign on the corner of Bourke and Exhibition Streets for Her Majesty’s and below a recent shot I took showing façade detail.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,804 Posts
Text from Walking Melbourne
The National Trust guide to the historic and architectural landmarks of central Melbourne

Princess Theatre
163-181 Spring Street, Melbourne

The first theatre on this site opened in 1854, and the present theatre was designed by William Pitt for the theatrical entrepreneurs Williamson Garner & Musgrove, and opened in 1886 with the Australian premier of The Mikado. It is considered an exemplar of the French Second Empire style, complete with multiple mansard domed roofs topped by cast iron crowns; the delightful leadlight windowed ‘winter garden’ foyer at the first floor was added in c1901 and the auditorium was rebuilt in 1922 in the ‘Adam’ style by theatre specialist Henry White. Facing an uncertain future in the 1980s, it was extensively restored in 1989 by Allom Lovell & Associates, and is now the Flagship of Melbourne’s ‘theatreland’. The Princess backs onto the rear of the former Palace Theatre, giving rise to the urban rumour that chorus girls would appear in one show, then run across the back lane to appear in another!



Princess Theatre, above and below, before balconies were filled in to create the ‘winter garden’ foyer in 1901.




An old aerial.

Four of my own below.









Princes Theatre at night.

 

·
Registered Melbourne
Joined
·
4,166 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Great stuff Collector: Ballarat has some good theatres too. Perhaps the most notable one I remember was in Strahan, Tasmania, whete the same show had gone on ... well since white settlement.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,788 Posts
Theatres and Cinemas have always been a passion of mine so much so that I have made a point of visiting all the CBD ones including the many that have closed down over the years.
My favourite theatre has to be the State Theatre at the Arts Centre and for
Cinemas a toss up between the Regent and the Forum when it was the original State (with the full night sky ceiling) before the changes in 1962.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,804 Posts
Text from Walking Melbourne
The National Trust guide to the historic and architectural landmarks of central Melbourne

Former State Theatre (now Forum)
150-162 Flinders Street, corner Russell Street, Melbourne

This wildly exotic structure, replete with an ‘Arabian nights’ façade and onion domed tower, was the flagship of the Union Theatre chain and was Australia’s largest silent era picture palace, seating 3370.
Executed by the local architects Bohringer Taylor & Johnson, the design was provided by American theatre specialist John Eberson in his distinctive ‘atmospheric’ style, where the interior is designed to give the impression of a walled Florentine garden, complete with artificial night sky studded with stars, surrounded by statuary (mainly sent out from Eberson’s Boston workshop).
It was built in a race with the equally sumptuous Regent Theatre in Collins Street, and opened first by three and a half weeks in February 1929. Renamed the Forum in 1962 when the balcony was subdivided off to form a second cinema, it became a Revivalist Church in the 1980s, and in the late 1990s became a mixed entertainment venue.

How it looked in the 1930s.



The Forum at night.



Several shots of my own.







 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,804 Posts
Main body of text from Melbourne Architecture
Philip Goad

Palais Theatre
Lower Esplanade, St Kilda, Melbourne

1927 Henry E White

Built on the site of another theatre/cinema, the design of which was widely attributed to Walter Burley Griffin, the new Palais was described by the Argus in 1927 as the largest and most beautiful theatre in the country. Seating 2968 people, the ‘French and Oriental style’ interior was indeed vast. Features of the interior were the open wells in the upper foyer and an elliptical one over the back stalls. In recent years, the Palais has been the venue for a wide variety of events, scout gang shows, rock concerts, architects’ award nights and even the odd film festival.

Before the current Palais Theatre, there were two versions of the Palais Pictures.

In the postcard below we see the original Palais Pictures (1914) in the center, flanked by Luna Park and Palais De Danse.



In 1922, while work commenced on the Capital Theatre, Walter Burley Griffin began designing a remodelled Palais Pictures. Construction of Griffin's plans began in 1925, but a spectacular fire engulfed the stage in February 1926, just before completion, bringing a halt to work.

When the Griffins moved on to Sydney, the developers commissioned a new architect, Henry E. White, to build the larger, more grand Palais Theatre.

Photo of the renovated Palais Pictures, just before the fire.



Add featuring the new Palais Theatre/Pictures.



The Palais Theatre built on the former old Palais Pictures site in all its glory.


Photo by MattDoc.

The stage.



Aerial of the St Kilda triangle featuring the Palais Theatre.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,788 Posts
Thanks Collector for the interior shot of the wonderfull Palais Theatre at St Kilda.
Its pretty hard to find interior shots and under the old management even the Cinema Society couldnt get access.The story has it that it was never fully finished as the depression of the 1930s hitthe owners hard and money dried up - sound familiar?
Has the government refurb started yet?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,804 Posts
Text from Melbourne Architecture

Capitol Theatre
109-117 Swanston Street
1921-24 Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony in association with Peck and Kemter

When this cinema opened in 1924, the public flocked to hear the Wurlitzer organ and see the movies and the spectacular light show afforded by the Griffin’s plaster ceiling design. Like a crystal-hung cave, thousands of concealed coloured lights were gradually illuminated to provide a fantastic atmospheric experience. It was a space that evoked spiritual transcendence, but the interior of ‘living rock’ was not the direct romantic evocation of a Tuscan garden as seen in the later Forum. It was certainly otherworldly, but the image was distinctly architectural, suggesting a stepped pyramid form, the mystical essence of an original and arguably natural monument.
The Capitol was also of technical interest, to achieve such a dramatic ceiling, massive reinforced concrete portals allowed the interior structure to be hung uninterrupted by any internal columns. Outside, the Capitol is also distinctive. Two deep cornices cap two pylon motifs each of three vertical piers extending over the entire height of the façade. It is, as historian Jeffrey Turnbull has suggested, like a giant gateway. Cinema historian Ross Thorne has described it as, ‘…not a mere breath of fresh air wafting through the design offices of Melbourne, it was a howling gale of modernity sweeping out every vestige of revivalist decorative stylism.’
Tragically, in the 1960s, the owners decided to insert a shopping arcade right through the middle of the auditorium. A campaign to save the theatre was waged and a compromise was reached: the cave-like foyers were destroyed and a new floor was inserted. Many of the original lobby and vestibule spaces were either destroyed or boarded up, but the ceiling was saved. In recent years, great efforts have been made to restore surviving elements of the theatre. The dramatic cantilevering street canopy with its light globes and skylights is the most significant recent restoration.


One of my own shots above and two postcards below.



The incredible interior.



These three images below show the original ground floor that was demolished in the 1960s to make way for a very ordinary shopping arcade that leads to Howey Place.





 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,804 Posts
Text from Walking Melbourne
The National Trust guide to the historic and architectural landmarks of central Melbourne

Regent Theatre
191-197 Collins Street

Melbourne’s grandest ‘Picture Palace’ was designed by Cedric H Ballantyne, drawing heavily on American cinema design, for F T Thring’s Hoyts Theatres, and was built in competition with the equally huge State Theatre (now the Forum). Opening just 3 1/2 weeks after the State in March 1929, the interior includes a Medieval Spanish style foyer, dripping with ornamentation and crowned by a painted ceiling, contrasted with a sumptuous Versailles Palace style auditorium (originally seating 3250), complete with an enormous crystal chandelier. A second cinema, the gorgeous Spanish Baroque style Plaza Theatre was built in the basement. The Regent is a remarkable survivor, and a testament to popular affection – following a disastrous fire in 1947, the auditorium was completely rebuilt in the original style, and after the last film was shown in 1971, it lay empty, surviving demolition threats for 25 years (with the help of union bans and the National Trust) until it was finally restored by Allom Lovell & Associates as a live theatre for David Marriner in 1996.

The Regent Theatre as originally built, with the Plaza below.



The Regent Theatre on the left in January 1964.



Interior of the Regent Theatre.



Below, two shots of my own.



 

·
®
Joined
·
6,021 Posts
Why did the "Festival Hall" get demolished to make way for the Festival Towers" in Brisbane again?
Was it primarily as it became abandoned and brissy had too many theatres under used and/ un wanted - a need for resi on land which was not as sacred to heritage values? Was that Private or government own? Obviously privately run if it made way to a closure and development of that size...

The Festival towers I think aren't any better (looking wise) as the Festival Hall itself was, to retain and redevelop the hall below a tower would have been interesting, but the Regent Theatre in Brisbane to me is more worthier in architecture than Festival Hall was... my :2cents:
 

·
Sydney: World's best city
Joined
·
40,696 Posts
Why did the "Festival Hall" get demolished to make way for the Festival Towers" in Brisbane again?
Was it primarily as it became abandoned and brissy had too many theatres under used and/ un wanted - a need for resi on land which was not as sacred to heritage values? Was that Private or government own? Obviously privately run if it made way to a closure and development of that size...

The Festival towers I think aren't any better (looking wise) as the Festival Hall itself was, to retain and redevelop the hall below a tower would have been interesting, but the Regent Theatre in Brisbane to me is more worthier in architecture than Festival Hall was... my :2cents:
I have found this shot of the Old Festival Hall



The original building was the Brisbane Stadium built in 1910, and replaced by Festival Hall in 1959



There is a display or 'Hall of Fame' relating to the sites history at the entrance to the building.

For those interested in it's past this site would be of good interest - http://www.milesago.com/venues/bris-festhall.htm

As for why it closed??? I couldnt find anything but it was facing competition from larger venues such as the Brisbane Entertainment Centre which has better facilities for performers and patrons. Remember too that this was the main venue for Boxing in Brisbane!!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,788 Posts
That looks Identical to the interior of the Regent in Brisbane. Was it a chain? Everything about it looks the same.
The were the brainchild Of Frank Thring (father of the actor of the same name)who was manageing director of Hoyts Theatres at the time and he had many "Regent" style Theatres built around Australia.
 
1 - 20 of 79 Posts
Top