Grand Dame Ready To Raise The Curtain
Posted by APATA | Aug 14, 2020
Her Majesty’s Theatre Adelaide has survived prohibition, a pandemic and is now ready to open when it’s safe to do so. Her Majesty’s has been reinvigorated and returned to her world-class status, with state-of-the-art lighting and sound technology, the widest proscenium arch and deepest fly tower of any commercial theatre in Australia, and a rehearsal room the same size as the stage itself.
Work on the A$66 million redevelopment, which commenced in June 2018, has transform this grand Dame into a larger, more accessible venue with state-of-the art facilities for modern productions. She is now complete and she is absolutely gorgeous – with all the mod cons theatre practitioners desire while retaining her original beauty steeped in history.
The Adelaide landmark was built in 1912 and is the last remaining example of the famous chain of Tivoli theatres, although redevelopments in the 1960s and 1970s removed many of its unique architectural features and more than halved its capacity to around 900 seats.
While the building’s heritage façade and eastern wall have been preserved, the theatre now boasts a 1471-seat auditorium over three levels. The new design also re-introduces some of its original Edwardian elements and a third tier of seating.
Her Majesty’s Theatre, lovingly dubbed The Maj, was originally built in 1912 under the name of the Princess Theatre, being the first of seven names the theatre has held. With a building over a century old, the Centre’s Performing Arts Collection team unearthed a treasure trove of unique and vibrant memorabilia which has been lovingly incorporated into design to celebrate its history and invest in its future – it’s a wonderful showcase paying tribute to the past while the new development paves way to the future. From costumes to posters, programs to props, it is a fascinating look at the venue’s past.
The redevelopment was designed by Adelaide-based COX Architecture and built by Hansen Yuncken, managed by the South Australian Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure and Adelaide Festival Centre Trust.
The new Her Majesty’s Theatre opened on 12 June 2020. The theatre was unveiled by Douglas Gautier AM, Adelaide Festival Centre Chief Executive Officer and Artistic Director. Uncle Mickey Kumatpi Marrutya O’Brien, a senior Kaurna and Narungga man, marked the official completion with a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony.
The redeveloped theatre features a 1467-seat auditorium over three levels. The grand circle was rebuilt, after an absence of 50 years. Two curving staircases in the expanded main foyer and other features retain some of the original Edwardian-era Art Nouveau elements, including a pressed metal ceiling, elegant architraves and mouldings. Other features include custom-built curved timber balcony fronts in the auditorium, foyer bars on all three levels, a larger backstage rehearsal room and a huge glass façade to the new west wing.
The theatre’s “signature wall”, formerly in the basement, was deconstructed and reinstalled brick by brick in a central position backstage. The wall is covered with signatures from visiting stars, including Julie Anthony, Rowan Atkinson, Lauren Bacall, Alan Cumming, and Barry Humphries. On the floors of each foyer level, brass tiles are engraved with the names of some of the notable stars who have performed at the theatre over the past 100 years. The Maj is magnificence and ready to raise the curtain.