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MELBOURNE'S OLDEST

THEATRES

VICTIMS OF TAXATION.

"The pity of. it, Iago!"

Melbourne's Theatre Royal, for moro tthnn seventy years the home ot drama,

opera, and comedy, the scene of Innu- merable triumphs by G. V. Brooke, Walter Montgomery, Madame Rlstorl (the Tragic Muse herself), J. C. Wil- liamson and Maggie Moore, Dion Bou clcault, Robert Brough,' Nellie .Stewart, Oscar Asclie, anda legion ot other great artists of the stage, is (says thc "Age") under offer for sale to a Arm of drap- ers. Excessive taxation, combined with the overwhelming competition from the talking cinema, is blamed for the im- pending doom of the old theatre. The passing of tho Royal will awaken many happy memories In ' old patrons , or the theatre in Australia. There are few now

who can go far back in memory as' to recall the building of the original Thea- tre Royal in 1865, lt.was built by Mr. John Black, a Melbourne carrier, who had made a large fortune by carrying goods from Melbourne and Geelong to the diggings. Shortly before that George Coppin, then well on "his way to fame and fortune as an actor-manager, had brought the fnmous Shakespearean nc tor, G. V. Brooke, to play tn Melbourne. Coppin himself was playing as Paul Pry in the little theatre known as the Queen's, in Queen Street, but as it was then the only theatre tn Melbourne, an excessively high rental was extracted for it, so Coppin Imported n theatre for

himseir. Its walls of Iron soon arrived and within six weeks this now theatre, named the Olympic, but more generally known as the "Iron Pot," was erected at tho corner-of Lonsdale and Stephen

Streets.

GREAT PLAYERS AT THE ROYAL.

G. V. Brooke played by lamplight in the Olympic, but lt wns not worthy of his fine acting, and the paucity of the place was emphasised when the Theatre Royal was opened on July 6, 1855, with G. H. Rogers and Mrs. Poole in "Thc School for Scandal." Melbourne at that time had not even a gas eupply, but Black set up his own retorts,' and pro- vided his new theatre with brilliant ll luminatlon. Though Black was a suc- cessful carrier, he failed as a theatrlca manager, and* in 1866 Coppin, with th« whole of his fine company-Harwood Stewart, Hennings and Coppin-wem Into possession at tho Theatre Royal Two years later, when Coppin was elect- ed tn Parllnment, Brooke' bought hi: share In tho theatre, nnd became fut proprietor. Since then there have beet many changes of ownership. In 1872 th« theatre was burnt down, but. within foin months it was rebuilt. .Soon afterward! J. C. Williamson and his wife. Maggil Moore, played "Struck OH" there, ant in the succeeding years many well-re membered players graced the stage o the Royal, In 1900 the theatre was ac- quired by J. C. Williamson, but a fev years later it entered upon a new phasi when the lease was taken over by Si Rupert Clarke, Mr. Clyde Meynell, am Mr. John Gunn, who staged a successioi I of bright musical plays, beginning wit!

"Miss Hook of Holland," and Includini "The Chocolate Soldier," "Thc Belle o I Brittany." "The Belle ot Mayfair," "Thi Girl Behind the Counter," and otho successful productions. Eventually with the amalgamation of Clarke nm Meynell, with J, C. Williamson,- th Theatre Royal became merged in th firm of J. C. Williamson Ltd,

HIS MAJESTY'S.

Another loss to stage life In Melbourn ls threatened In the proposal to conver His Majesty's Theatre into a "talkie theatre. For n generation this build in has been the leading show house of Vic tarta. The building of lt wns under taken by Jules Joubert. a Fronchmat who, In his day, became well known 1 Melbourne as a professional organise of exhibitions, Joubert had grent ambl Hon« for his new Idea: the projecte building was considerably larger tho any theatre In Melbourne, but fund became exhausted before the bulldin was completed, and foi many year the theatre was little more than a bar shell. It was named tho Alexandra, an was opened in 1886. For a time it wa

leased by Alfred Dampier, .who produÇeJ there, with variable luck, several of:hl! own plays. Including "The Sunny South' For quite a long, time he ran the plací Then others followed him. Numeroo plays, mainly ot a light order, were pro duced lhere by successive companies but few wore successes: financially. Al one stage Fitzgerald's Circus was housei In , the barnlike structure, and for i Unie tho Salvation Army used it as i lecture hall. In 1900, however, thc to tune of the theatre changed when J. C Williamson obtained possession of it remodelled it, and made it tho fines theatre of the day in Victorian if nd In Australia. Tho name was clianfel to Her Majesty's, and by that it remain- ed known ,long after the passing o! Queen Victoria. Only in late years, ia 'fact, was the name finally altered to Hil Majesty's. The firm of Williamson. Garner, and Musgrove was responsIKi for the building of the Princess Theatrf In Sprltig Street In 1884, on tho slte.o the old Princess Theatre, a building o. corrugated Iron erected by G. B. iv. Lewis in 1854. and called originally Aps ley's Amphitheatre, The Princess ii now a "talkie" theatre, and Hf Majesty's has been out of commission since its interior was destroyed by fin last October.. [Old Hobart folk will re- member Jules Joubert, who came to th.n city and ran an exhibition on the site known as the old lower cricket ground! I _._

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