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Regent Theatre


2004 Photo from the Ken Roe collection
191 Collins Street
Melbourne VIC

Visit Website Live Theatre
Record #324  
 Opened: 1929
Capacity: 3277 seats
Architect(s): Cedric Ballantyne
Architectural Style(s): Spanish Baroque
National Register:
Current Organ: 4/36 Wurlitzer
 Also Known As:

Information for this tour was contributed by Ken Roe.

The Regent Theatre was the second largest cinema theatre built in Australia.
Underneath the vast auditorium was the Plaza ballroom which never opened for that use, as cinema was booming it opened a few months after the Regent as a 1,235 seat cinema, giving the whole building a total seating capacity of 4,522.

Disaster struck the Regent Theatre on the 29th April 1945 when fire broke out in the rear dress circle. Within 15 minutes the flames had taken hold and the roof collapsed and the entire auditorium and stage section were in ruins. The Plaza Theatre underneath escaped with only minor damage and re-opened a few months later, but the Regent was destroyed, apart from the foyer areas. Architect Cowper, Murphy and Appleford were commissioned to re-build the theatre and they worked on original architect's designs, restoring the building to almost exactly as originally built except for the proscenium arch. A grand re-opening took place on 19th December 1947 and the theatre now seated 3,255, just a few less than it originally had. A new Wurlitzer 3 Manual/15 Rank organ was installed, made up from other organs and it was enlarged to 4 Manual/19 Ranks.

The Regent closed on 1st July 1970 and the Plaza followed a few months later. The building was stripped of its fitting and boarded up. Several plans were made for its use and even demolition was talked about, but nothing happened and it sat there until it was finally restored in 1994, to re-opened in 1996 as a live theatre, operated by Marriner Theatres. The former Plaza Theatre underneath now serves as a function room to the main theatre.

 Photos
 Photos remain the property of the Member and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Member.

March 2004 photos from the Ken Roe collection.


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Last featured 2002-12-27. Last edited 9/4/2010.

 
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