Project Description


Early in the morning of 25th October 1929, after rehearsals for a production called Brewster’s Millions, a fire broke out in the main auditorium of Her Majesty’s Theatre, believed to have originated in the “spotlight cabin at the back of the gallery”. For a theatre in the early part of the last century, a fire was actually not an unusual event. In fact, from 1901 to 1929, nineteen smaller fires had broken out in various parts of Her Majesty’s, however the fire of 1929 was far and away the most damaging.

While the fire devastated the interior of the auditorium, the structure of the building remained fairly intact, allowing for the interior to be rebuilt inside the shell of the 1886 building. That layout remains to this day so next time you come and see at show at HMT have a look around – you are actually sitting inside a building, inside a building!

A company spokesman indicated that rebuilding would take at least six months, but it eventually took five years, progress of the works presumably held up by the economic uncertainty of the great depression.

During the interim, the stage area was used as a movie studio by the comedian Pat Hanna and also by FW Thring’s company Efftee Films. Radio stations 3AR and 3AW also broadcast from rooms in the theatre, ensuring Her Majesty’s Theatre’s strong, continuous connection to the Arts industry in this country.

The interior was finally reinstated in 1934 lending to the elegant Art Deco/Moderne style you still see here today. The auditorium was narrowed, to give better sight lines to the stage and a greater feeling of intimacy, creating the environment that still today makes Her Majesty’s Theatre one of the best venues for live performance in Melbourne.

For me information on the amazing, rich history of Her Majesty’s Theatre, make sure you LIKE us on Facebook and as always, see you at the theatre!

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