Performance of 'Swan Lake' at Her Majesty's Theatre, Brisbane, 1953

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Where: Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

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When: 01 January 1953

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Creator: Unidentified.

Location: Brisbane, Queensland.

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Owner: State Library of Queensland, Australia
Source: Flickr Commons
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stage performance actor actress theatre hall cast theatrical costume dancers microphone stagesetting swan lake scene balet classical state library queensland hermajestystheatre herimperialmajesty’soperahouse swanlake brisbaneballettheatre ballet

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    • 16/Mar/2022 10:04:35

    His Majesty’s was the largest theatre in Brisbane and it hosted most of the productions by professional touring companies throughout its 95-year history. The Majesty theatre was demolished it on 23 October 1983 and the Hilton Hotel and Wintergarden Shopping Centre were built on the site. Source:

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    • 16/Mar/2022 10:07:54

    Her Majesty’s Theatre originally opened on 2 April 1888 as Her Imperial Majesty’s Opera House (193 Queen Street between Albert and Edwards Streets) with a seating capacity of 2,250. It changed its name after the death of Queen Victoria to His Majesty’s Theatre on 23 March 1901, a name which is kept throughout the reign of the 3 Kings and even though some of Queen Elizabeth's reign, eventually being renamed Her Majesty’s Theatre. Sometimes referred to as the Brisbane Opera House, and affectionately known as “Her Maj“. Her Majesty’s Theatre earned the distinction of being the first in Brisbane to present an attractive facade as well as interior. Her Majesty’s Theatre was the theatre for the socially elite in Brisbane with a standard dress code for audiences of formal evening attire. A hotel was also included within the basic design of the building. The main entrance to the theatre was between two shops. The ceiling of the auditorium was decorated with an intricate design of cornices. The orchestra level seating housed almost 700 people and the stalls could fit 550. A further 400 people could sit in the Dress Circle which was accessed by its own entrance and staircase, while another staircase could access the Family Circle for 600 people. In 1928 extensive renovation of His Majesty’s Theatre took place which on reopening in 1929 now had a seating capacity of 1,387. This refurbishment also included the removal of the separate gallery and dress circle and the installation of a new combined dress circle. Further cosmetic renovations occurred in 1941. His Majesty’s Theatre was the largest theatre in Brisbane and it hosted most of the productions by professional touring companies throughout its 95-year history; J.C. Williamson's company held the lease on the theatre for more than 80 years. Her Majesty’s Theatre was sold to the A.M.P. Society for $3 million in 1973. Some of the final shows at Her Majesty’s Theatre included the Queensland Theatre Company production of the musical ANNIE from Nov/Dec 1981, the Lyric Opera of Queensland production of Il Trovatore starring Rita Hunter in September 1982, The Rocky Horror Show starring Stuart Wagstaff in October 1982 with a final production of JC Williamson’s production of EVITA in October 1983. Despite community protest, the Kern Corporation demolished it on 23 October 1983 and the Hilton Hotel and Wintergarden Shopping Centre were built on the site. The Kern Corporation caused a Union ban on construction at the site because, despite assurances that the facade of the colonial theatre would be kept as part of the new building, the entire building was destroyed. Source:

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    • 16/Mar/2022 10:12:13

    Brisbane Ballet Theatre’s First Production Brisbane Ballet Theatre was formed on 14 April 1953 with Mr Cyril Johns as Artistic Director. Its first production was Swan Lake, Act 2 performed at the Albert Hall, Brisbane on 26 October 1953. Nineteen dancers took part, led by guest artist Ruth Ellis and Cyril Johns, with a pianist and two violinists providing the Tchaikovsky music. This event was a co-production with the Brisbane Arts Theatre and the evening began with a performance of Noel Coward's play Hands Across the Sea. A lecture demonstration on ballet training was given by Cyril Johns and narrated by Brenda McCullough. The entire production was enthusiastically received by the audience. The Brisbane production was positively reviewed by the Courier-Mail’s critic Roger Covell under the headline BALLET THEATRE IN SUCCESSFUL DEBUT: The size and enthusiasm of the audience at the first performance of the Brisbane Ballet Theatre in Albert Hall last night made the evening phenomenally successful. If the newly-formed group had any doubts about their welcome in Brisbane, last night dispelled them. The house was packed and a long queue waited outside in the hope of returned tickets. If the audience showed more enthusiasm than discrimination, that was what last night needed. The Albert Hall stage, for instance, was far too small for the corps de ballet in Act II of Swan Lake. But a sympathetic eye could see the good work which the stage and an unsatisfactory musical accompaniment was hampering. And the work of the principals, Ruth Ellis and Cyril Johns set a worthy ideal for the rest of the company. For those who could not get in last night, the Ballet Theatre announced that it hoped to present soon a lunch-hour performance of Swan Lake Act II. Later that year on 13 November, the theatre group took its production of Swan Lake, Act II to Toowoomba, in association with Clare Drew's Cameo Ballet. Sources: Australia Dances: Creating Australian Dance 1954-1965 by Alan Brissenden and Keith Glennon & The Courier-Mail, 27 October 1953.