Theatre and performance in Victoria

Find information about theatrical performers, performances, theatre companies and venues. Includes everything from drama, opera and dance to circus, puppetry and readings.

A timeline of Victorian theatres

1844 — 1845

Albert Theatre, Geelong

One of the earliest theatres in Geelong, the Albert Theatre opened 19 December 1844. Its short life was due in part to its limited space.

Resources:

1848 — 1865

Theatre Royal, Geelong

 

Situated in Malop St Geelong, the Theatre Royal serviced the port and nearby goldfields. George Coppin acquired the lease of the Theatre Royal in 1853.

Resources:

1854 — 1857

Astley's Ampitheatre

 

Astley's Amphitheatre was established by George B. W. Lewis as a house of entertainment providing permanent equestrian acts in the manner of Astley's in London. In 1857 it became the first Princess Theatre, and was demolished 30 years later to make way for the new building.

Resources:

1854 — 1880

Charlie Napier Theatre / Hotel

 

Opened November 1854 the theatre was razed in a fire in 1861. Rebuilt In Brick December 1861 and Finally Pulled Down 1880".

Resources:

1854 — 1855

Adelphi Theatre, Ballarat

 

Started in 1855 by Sarah Hamner, fire razed the theatre soon after.

Resource:

1855 — 1926

Geelong Mechanics Institute

 

Commissioned in 1855, Geelong's second Mechanics Institute was a place for learning and entertainment. The building was destroyed by fire in 1926.

Resources:

1857 — 1861

Montezuma Hotel, Ballarat

 

One of the many theatres and hotels on Main Road, Ballarat. Approximately 1000 patron capacity.

Resource:

1858 — 1880

Theatre Royal, Ballarat

 

Located on Sturt Street, the Theatre Royal had a capacity of 1500 patrons.

Resource:

1859

Ballarat Mechanic's Institute

 

Since 1859, the BMI has been used for balls, lectures, markets, cinema, library, concerts and cultural events.

Resources:

1862 — 1871

Haymarket Theatre

 

Designed for George Coppin and opened September 1862.. The theatre was destroyed by fire in September 1871. The Apollo Hall was rebuilt, together with the Eastern Arcade.

Resources:

1867 — 1957

Alfred Hall, Ballarat

 

The Alfred Hall took seven weeks to build and was designed to hold 7000 patrons. In 1957 the hall was demolished for the new Civic Hall.

Resource:

1872

Apollo Hall

 

After a fire destroyed the Haymarket Theatre, the Apollo Theatre and Eastern Arcade were built in 1872.

Resource:

1875 — 1898

Academy of Music, Ballarat

 

Built to replace the Theatre Royal the Academy of Music was constructed in 1875. In 1898 the Academy was bought by a consortium and repurposed into a theatre called Her Majesty's. The theatre is still in use.

Resource:

1880 — 1889

Bijou Theatre

 

The Academy of Music was renamed the Bijou Theatre in 1880. The theatre was destroyed in 1889 by a fire. A second Bijou Theatre and the Gaiety was built on the same spot.

Resources:

1880 — 1884

Hippodrome

 

Circa 1880, The Hippodrome, an open air venue for equestrian shows and circuses, occupies the site. Circa 1884, property developer Jules Francois de Sales Joubert purchases the site to build the Alexandra Theatre.

 

1886 — 1900

Alexandra Theatre

 

Circa 1884, property developer Jules Francois de Sales Joubert purchases the Hippodrome to build the Alexandra Theatre. Opened on 1 October 1886 Joubert named it the Alexandra, after the then Princess of Wales.

Resources:

1886

Princess Theatre

 

Built on the site of the Astley's Ampitheatre and first Princess Theatre in 1886. Auditorium rebuilt in 1921. Reopened in 1989 after major refurbishment. Still in operation.

Resource:

1890 — 1936

Gaiety Theatre

 

Theatre built besides the Bijou Theatre in 1890. Renamed The Roxy in 1930.

 

1898

Her Majesty's Theatre, Ballarat

 

Her Majesty's Ballarat was originally opened as the Academy of Music in 1875. It is still in operation.

Resource:

1900

Her Majesty's Theatre

 

In 1900 James Cassius Williamson (J.C. Williamson) takes over the lease on the Alexandra theatre and re-names it Her Majesty’s Theatre in honour of Queen Victoria. The theatre is open to this day.

 

1914 — 1966

Tivoli Theatre

 

At 249 Bourke Street, the Tivoli provided Melbourne with colourful, escapist vaudeville, variety and revue entertainment through almost all its 66-year history. Designed by William Pitt, it opened on 18 May 1901 as the 1539-seat New Opera House, with a bill headed by British comedian Marie Lloyd. The theatre was the Melbourne link in Harry Rickards' Tivoli vaudeville circuit. Later Rickards' stars included the escapologist Houdini, comedian W.C. Fields and illusionist Chung Ling Soo. In 1912 Rickards' successor, Hugh D. McIntosh, renamed the theatre the Tivoli. The elaborate musical comedy Chu Chin Chow was staged in 1920. Lavish revues were introduced in the 1930s and became the Tivoli's standard fare, with pantomimes at Christmas and, in later years, occasional musicals. Among the many local Tivoli favourites were Roy Rene 'Mo', Jim Gerald, George Wallace, Jenny Howard, Clem Dawe, Eric Edgley and Queenie Paul - who, with her husband, Mike Connors, ran the Tivoli in the early 1930s. The theatre did much to raise morale during depression and war years. From 1946 most Tivoli shows were headed by overseas stars such as Tommy Trinder, George Formby, Tommy Steele, Shirley Bassey, Chico Marx, Nelson Eddy and Sophie Tucker. The theatre's auditorium was rebuilt in 1956. Jimmy Edwards starred in the final live show in 1966. The Tivoli became a cinema but was destroyed by fire in April 1967. Tivoli Court occupies the site.

1929

Regent Theatre

 

Opened as a picture theatre. Reopened in 1996 after a refurbishment.

Resources: