Palais Theatre - St Kilda

TonyCrehan

Hobart, Australia

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Featured 11/07/10 in Art Deco Heaven http://www.redbubble.com/groups/art-deco-heaven Group

Featured 12/19/10 in Anything Theatrical http://www.redbubble.com/groups/movie-palaces-of-old Group

Featured in Inner City Suburbs http://www.redbubble.com/groups/inner-city-suburbs Group on 04/01/12

Featured in Weekly Theme Challenges http://www.redbubble.com/groups/weekly-theme-challenges Group on 04/16/13

St Kilda is a beachside suburb on Melbourne’s Port Philip Bay. It has a long history as Melbourne’s entertainment playground for which Luna Park and the Palais are famous.

There have been several theatres named “Palais” in St Kilda, the first of which opened in 1914. At the end of World War I, the Palais de Danse site became Palais Pictures. In 1919, a steel-framed, arched truss structure was built over the old dance-hall and the Palais de Danse was relocated next door to a building that was later destroyed by fire. In 1922, Walter Burley Griffin began designing a remodeled 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 Griffin’s moved on to Sydney, the developers commissioned a new architect, Henry E. White to build a larger, more grand theatre.

When Palais Pictures was built it was one of the largest theaters in the southern hemisphere. It opened on 11th November 1927 with Janet Gaynor in “Seventh Heaven”. It was (with the Regent, South Yarra and the Victory (National) St Kilda) the first suburban cinema to screen talkies on 3 July 1929, five months after their first Australian exhibition at the Athenaeum. Until the fifties, it was the place to go to the movies. You saw two full-length films, preceded by Harry Jacobs and his Band with 30 minutes of singers, music, dancers or other variety performers.
In 1962 there were the first musicals at the Palais Theatre, revivals from the 1920s: the Desert Song, New Moon and the Student Prince. The Royal Ballet appeared with Margot Fonteyn. In the sixties, the Palais Theatre was seldom dark. In the seventies, it was alive with Edgely spectaculars, The Bolshoi, The Kirov, ‘Stars of World Ballet’ and the Australian Ballet, regularly. There were more musicals, with two long seasons of Jesus Christ Superstar. In 1978, the Australian Opera appeared at the Palais Theatre, with a lavish Nabucco starring Joan Sutherland. It was only at the Palais Theatre that audiences could be large enough to pay for such productions. Soon rock and roll’s biggest stars were here, including The Rolling Stones. It was also frequently the venue of the Melbourne International Film Festival.

The Palais Theatre is currently the largest theatre in Australia seating 2896 patrons. The building is considered one of the finest examples of Art deco architecture in Australia and is on the Victorian Heritage Register.

Under new management, the theatre is again in frequent use for local and international live performances and has undergone some much needed repairs.

Artwork Comments

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