This month the theatre made a comeback in Adelaide after months of lockdown. It was also the month that our historic, heritage listed Her Majesty’s Theatre reopened after months of restoration. It’s grand opening with the State Theatre of South Australia’s production of Gaslight last week saw theatregoers happily return.
Her Majesty’s Theatre, known locally as The Raj, has a long history. It opened in 1913 as the Tivoli theatre and seated an impressive 2170 patrons. Regarded as one of the finest theatres in Australia, and the last Tivoli theatre of its kind, the Raj has played an important part in the country’s theatrical history.
During WWI many overseas artists were featured and fundraising (including RFDS swing) concerts were held fir the troops. In 1918 AC Blackburn was awarded his Victorian Cross on the stage 2 years later the theatre hosted a reception for Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith after their record breaking 28 day flight from Britain to Australia.
Many dark nights during the Depression and the impact of this severe economic downturn was magnified by the introduction of talking pictures and a State entertainment tax on tickets.
Over 104 years the Maj has showcased many famous and infamous celebrities including: WC Fields, Sir Robert Helpmann, Dame Maggie Smith, Lauren Bacall, Angela Lansbury, Whoopi Goldberg, Barry Humphries, Luciano Pavarotti and Nancy’s Hayes.
Redevelopment during 2020 means the theatre has been restored to as close as possible to its original layout. Seating capacity has been increased to 1500 people, but patrons are currently being seated with one seat between until restrictions lift further. However, the benefit of COVID seating means that you can finally spread out and there is no-one seated directly in front of you.
Seating is much more comfortable and Adelaide looks forward to playing more shows as the theatre makes a grand comeback.