Capitol Theatre William Street, Perth, WA 1929 - MAGNIFICENCE LOST

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Perth's Capitol Theatre and Embassy Ballroom c. 1940s

Capitol Theatre

Perth, AU

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Capitol Theatre  William Street, Perth, WA 1929 - MAGNIFICENCE LOST

MAGNIFICENCE LOST – In the opinion of this writer, the destruction of the Capitol theatre in 1968 was a major sin against the people’s of Perth, and the subsequent generations to follow. The Capitol theatre was a special place with a unique ambiance, an atmosphere that cocooned and embraced an audience in it’s magnificence. A place you could enter and leave the problems of the world behind. An experience that has been lost forever with the advent of the concrete boxes that exist today under the guise and pretense of theatres. The Capitol theatre was a “Mighty Picture Palace” in the truest sense.

During the very early 50’s I was employed in the bio box at the “Regent Theatre Guildford”. A job was advertised at “The Capitol” for an assistant projectionist. What an opportunity, a chance to work in a major city theatre such as The Capitol didn’t come around every day. So I applied and lined up with half a dozen young hopefuls in the beautiful upstairs lounge foyer. My turn came, Oh you work for Bob Yelland at “The Regent”, does he know you are applying ? – of course he didn’t, and that was the end of it. That night Bob said – Heard you applied for a job at The Capitol today, aren’t you happy here Greg ? – A difficult moment in a young life that could only happen in Perth during the 50’s. After all Perth at that time was still a village with less then 300+ thousand in the metropolitan area.

As a youngster at Christian Brothers, St Georges Terrace, there were many opportunities to visit “The Capitol” – My uncle was a Catholic priest (Father Albert Lynch) and at the time held the position of supreme music adjudicator for the Catholic school / college Eisteddfod’s. All of the Catholic special events were held at “The Capitol” including outings to see films, such as “The Vatican” / The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima – “The Capitol Theatre” held the Columbia Pictures franchise, and we were able to enjoy “Film Noir” classics such as, “The Big Heat” / “Human Desire” / “On The Waterfront”.

Wide-Screen 1953 – The Capitol installed Wide-Screen for the season of the French master-piece “The Wages of Fear”. As we progressed into the 50’s the Columbia Pictures franchise went to Lionel Hart’s new “Liberty Theatre” in Barrack Street.

The Capitol was the mecca for live entertainment, who can forget in 1953 “Virgil” The Magnificent – World’s Greatest Illusionist, or the ill fated piano virtuoso “William Kapell” – Here I was lucky enough to go back stage & get a much treasured autograph. And what about the numerous “Wally Hadley” Sunday night, Capitol theatre jazz nights & dance band contests. Wally was a celebrated Perth, banjo / guitar player of extra-ordinary ability, who toured the OZ Tivoli Circuit with the great Freddy Morgan for entrepreneur Harry Wren as a double act. By the middle 50’s I was living and working for Hoyts in Melbourne. Every day I have cause to reflect on our obligation to pass on the privileged experiences we have enjoyed as being part of the great Picture Palace Era … Contributed by Greg Lynch –

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