Key Dates

HMT Illuminated c. 1886Her Majesty’s Theatre under lights. The date of this photograph is unknown.

Dame Nellie MelbaDame Nellie Melba, c. 1928

Dame Margot Fonteyn's debut at Her Majesty'sDame Margot Fonteyn takes a curtain call with the Borovansky Ballet in 1957.

c. 1880 The Hippodrome, an open air venue for equestrian shows and circuses, occupies the site.
1885 Work commences on the new theatre, built by Jules Francois de Sales Joubert and designed by Nahum Barnet.
1886 The Alexandra Theatre opens on 1 October. The theatre is named after Princess Alexandra, wife of the future King Edward VII.
1891 The theatre undergoes minor renovations to the auditorium and foyers.
1900 James Cassius Williamson takes over the lease on the theatre and re-names it Her Majesty’s Theatre in honour of Queen Victoria. It officially re-opens on 19 May.
1900 Throughout the year, further improvements to the building occur under Williamson’s management.
1902-04 Three new buildings are added to the rear of the theatre; the scene dock, the dressing room block and the paint frame. All three buildings still stand as part of the theatre complex today.
1911 After adverse comments by Dame Nellie Melba in 1909, the auditorium and proscenium arch are extensively re-modelled to improve the acoustics.
1911 Melba makes her Australian grand opera debut at the theatre as Violetta in La Traviata on 1 November.
1913 J C Williamson dies. George Tallis becomes Chairman of J C Williamson Ltd.
1924 The name is changed to His Majesty’s to honour King George V.
1926 Legendary Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova dances in a season commencing on 13 March. After a national tour, there is a farewell charity performance on 23 July. Pavlova returns for another tour in 1929.
1928 Dame Nellie Melba gives her farewell performance on 27 September.
1929 A fire on 25 October destroys the auditorium. The extent of the damage is limited by automatic sprinklers and a fire curtain between the auditorium and stage.
1930 The theatre is used as a sound stage for Frank Thring Snr’s Efftee Films and radio stations 3AR and 3AW broadcast from the building.
1933-34 J C Williamson Theatres rebuilds the theatre. The architects are Charles Hollinshed and Albion Walkley and the building company is Hansen and Yuncken. The theatre re-opens on 26 July 1934.
c. 1937 The neon sign, still fixed to the facade of the building, is installed.
1944 The Borovansky Ballet stages its first production at Her Majesty’s. The theatre becomes the home of The Borovansky Ballet for 17 years, that company laying the foundation for today’s Australian Ballet, established in 1962.
1953 The name reverts to Her Majesty’s Theatre following the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
1957 Dame Margot Fonteyn makes her Melbourne debut at the theatre, dancing with the Borovansky company.
1959 The Broadway hit My Fair Lady premieres at Her Majesty’s on 24 January. Its total of 730 performances at the theatre sets an Australian record that was not broken until Phantom of the Opera played in Melbourne from 1990 – 1993.
1965 The orchestra pit is enlarged to accommodate the Sutherland / Williamson Grand Opera Company, which commences an Australian tour at Her Majesty’s on 7 July. This company featured the triumphant return home of Joan Sutherland and a young tenor just starting his career, Luciano Pavarotti.
1978 After 78 years of association with J C Williamson Theatres, the building is sold to Gabriel Rose in May.
1986 100 years after it was first built, Her Majesty’s Theatre is classified by the National Trust and included on the Victorian Heritage Register.
1987 The theatre auditorium is extensively re-fitted to accommodate the production of Cats, which runs for over a year at the theatre. The original auditorium is reinstated at the end of the season.
2000 The Hobbit is the final production at the theatre under the Rose management. After the final performance on 2 April, the theatre closes.
2000 Mike Walsh takes possession of Her Majesty’s on 16 June and begins a complete rebuild of the stage house and associated backstage areas. Some remodelling is also carried out on the foyers.
2002 The theatre re-opens on 8 May with the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of The Hollow Crown.
2002 Dressing rooms in the 1904 dressing room block are upgraded. Six rooms are fitted with ensuite bathrooms.
2002 The musical Cabaret plays a 14 week season.
2004 Original basement dressing rooms from the 1886 building are gutted and rebuilt.
2004 The new Australian musical, Eureka, plays at the theatre to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Eureka Stockade in Ballarat.
2005 A return season of Mamma Mia! plays 14 weeks at Her Majesty’s and concludes the four year Australasian tour of the show.
2006 The Production Block is extensively rebuilt to provide two new ensemble dressing rooms as well as new offices for visiting managements. The wardrobe is refurbished to improve facilities. Backstage access is also improved by building a central staircase and providing a new link between the Production Block and the Rehearsal Room.
2007 The Stalls and Dress Circle seats, first installed in 1934 and refurbished a number of times, are replaced with new seats that provide superior comfort for patrons and also meet current regulations for manufacture and safety. This increases the capacity of the theatre from 1,620 to 1,700.
2007 Miss Saigon begins its Australian tour with a 16 week season at HMT. During the run, the production sets a new record for the biggest Box Office earnings in a single week at the theatre.
2007 The seats in the Grand Circle are also replaced to match the new seats installed earlier in the year in the Stalls and Dress Circle.
2011 Mary Poppins plays 299 performances to 100% capacity audiences for the duration of the season