||This article possibly contains original research. (October 2012)|
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2012)|
The Cremorne Theatre was a theatre in Brisbane in Brisbane, Australia. QPAC was constructed in 1985, however the location had been culturally significant for some time before this due to the presence of the Cremorne Theatre.
Originally an open-air structure with seating for about 1,800, the Cremorne Theatre was located on Stanley Street, South Brisbane, between Peel and Melbourne Streets, close to the point where the Victoria Bridge crossed the Brisbane River from the city.
It opened on 5 August 1911 with a light program of music and sketches under the title "The Dandies." The newspaper, The Brisbane Courier, reported:
"...the goodly number of patrons present noted with satisfaction this well arranged auditorium, the whole place, upon which the title of 'Cremorne' has been bestowed, wearing an air of neatness, brightness and comfort."
Brisbane's subtropical climate meant that the theatre's use was frequently interrupted by rainfall and it was closed temporarily in 1917 while weatherproof awnings were erected.
The theatre was first leased and then owned and operated by John Neil McCallum, the father of Australian actor, John McCallum. During those first ten years it was used mostly for vaudeville and variety shows, and for occasional drama productions with limited success.
In 1926, the theatre was leased by Greater Brisbane Amusements and a new ceiling and seating was installed in July of that year. It continued to prosper on and off; but by 1929 it was closed, being used only for meetings and the occasional amateur theatre production. During the early 1930s, the Brisbane Arts Theatre, the Brisbane Comic Opera and the Brisbane Repertory Theatre Society used it either as rehearsal space or for the staging of their productions.
In 1934 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer converted the building into a cinema by installing a new proscenium, a screen, a new sound system, and by reducing the size of the auditorium down to 1,300. This use continued until 1940 when it returned to the presentation of vaudeville, becoming the regular venue for Brisbane appearances by artists touring Australia for Tivoli Circuit, a national entertainment entrepreneur.
The Second World War
Then in 1943, the lease was taken over by Will Mahoney[not in citation given] and his wife, American entertainer Evie Hayes, together with American businessman Bob Geraghty. During World War II the Cremorne became a popular entertainment venue for Australian and American servicemen on leave. Mahoney and Hayes appeared on stage regularly along with leading artists like comedian Roy Rene[not in citation given], actor and comedian George Wallace[not in citation given], actor, stuntman and circus performer Jim Gerald[not in citation given], singer Olga Vernon, comedian Buster Fiddess[not in citation given], vaudevillian Peggy Mortimer, actor and entertainer Morry Barling, Ron and Iris Shand both actors and versatile stage performers, and chatting cartoonist "Inky" Williams. Peggy Mortimer also appeared under her married name, Peggy Toppano, and was invited to perform at the Cremorne Theatre by Bob Geraghty. The Cremorne Ballet, a female dance group who presented a slightly 'naughty' act, commanded a good following both with local and visiting men.
After the War, the Cremorne's role faded despite occasional professional use. From 1949 onwards, local groups used it for productions. In particular, The Brisbane Opera Society and the Theatre Guild of Queensland appeared there regularly.
By mid-1952 the building had been converted for use as offices and storage facilities for film distribution companies. It burnt down in 1954 and was never rebuilt.
- This quote was cited from Smith, Christopher. Treading the Boards: A survey of theatre buildings in Brisbane 1847–1998, Public Programs Unit, Queensland Performing Arts Trust, 1999, p. 43.
- Radbourne, Jennifer. Mahoney, William James (Will) (1894–1967). Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, Accessed 30 September 2011.
- McDermott, Celestine. Rene, Roy (Mo) (1891–1954). Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Accessed 30 September 2011.
- Evans, Raymond. Wallace, George Leonard (1918–1968). Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Accessed 30 September 2011.
- Rutledge, Martha. Gerald, James (Jim) (1891–1971). Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Accessed 30 September 2011.
- Biographical cuttings on Buster Fiddess, former comedian, containing one or more cuttings from newspapers or journals. National Library of Australia
- (13 December 2003). Peggy sang her own sweet tune. The Sydney Morning Herald.
- About QPAC.
- Queensland Performing Arts Centre website
- Blogger user: the foto fanatic. "Cremorne Theatre". Your Brisbane: Past and Present. Blogger.